HORNY: Vietnam is the world’s largest consumer of rhinoceros horn, with South Africa, Mozambique and Czecholslovakia close behind. But the government’s publicity campaign is getting through: rhino horn has no medicinal value, and it is illegal to buy, sell or transport it.
FOOTBALL KILLS: The new billion-dollar stadium of football’s Minnesota Vikings may kill thousands of birds which winter at the nearby Mississippi River.
At issue is the type of glass which the birds are less likely to see in the largely glass exterior of the new stadium. Using bird-friendly glass costs less than a tenth of one percent of the stadium’s overall price—and so far more than 50,000 fans agree.
PRANK GOES SOUR: A late-night fraternity “prank” was deadly for two pink flamingos and left a Mississippi freshman facing felony charges of grand larceny, animal cruelty and trespassing.
He was on a scavenger hunt, sneaked into a local zoo and stole a female flamingo. By the time he released the bird, it had to be euthanized because of internal injuries. A male flamingo who was its mate also died while trying to protect her.
GIGANTIC SKEETER: A spider the size of a small dog has been found in the South American rainforest. The South American Goliath Birdeater has two-inch fangs full of venom, and its feet “have hardened tips and claws that produce a very distinct, clicking sound, not unlike that of a horse’s hooves hitting the ground,” said an entomologist at Harvard University.
PICK-UP FOR PENGUINS: Anti-depressants are gulped by Humboldt penguins suffering from winter blues common in England.
The dozen penguins are from the wild coasts of Peru and Chile, but England’s almost daily downpours and high winds left them “thoroughly fed-up and miserable, much like the rest of us,” a spokesman for the Sea Life Sanctuary said.
A LOT OF PIE: A pumpkin grown in the Napa Valley has been declared the heaviest ever cultivated in North America, and now the giant gourd has been flown to New York where it will be featured in a botanical garden. The pumpkin weighed in at
CHEERS, SENOR: An African grey parrot named Nigel spoke English with a clipped British accent when he disappeared four years ago. He came back after all this time, but now he speaks Spanish.
GOODBYE CHICKENS: A truck driver in Idaho held 37,000 pounds of frozen chicken for ransom but left them to rot at a truck stop when he was refused the money. Meanwhile in Fresno, intruders killed more than 900 chickens—some of them bludgeoned with a golf club—after they broke into a commercial facility.
VIRAL TOYS: Giantmicrobes, which makes plush toys based on viruses, has sold out of its entire Ebola stock: the small Ebola doll for $9.95, the Ebola petri dish for $14.95 and the gigantic Ebola doll for $29. 95. The Connecticut-based company, which says it makes gag gifts that also have educational value, calls the Ebola virus the “T. Rex of microbes.” Over 4,500 people have died in West Africa in the latest outbreak.
HE’S A GOOD OLD BOY: Jeffrey, the only pet camel in England, enjoys beer so much he is brought leftover ale from the local pub in Sutton-on-the-Forest in Yorkshire. He was purchased as a surprise birthday present for a boy named Tom seven years ago, but now Tom has grown up and moved away. Tom’s parents want to downsize, but need somewhere large enough to accommodate their 11-foot pet.
TOO HEAVY TO HOP: An extinct giant kangaroo that lived in the Australian outback 100.000 years ago was too heavy to hop, scientists have claimed. The creature was nine feet tall and believed to have weighed up to 550 pounds—three times the size of the largest present-day kangaroos.