Camel horde besieges Australian town

November 26, 2009

When camels come, they come not single spies but in battalions

A town in Australia’s Northern Territory has been besieged by legions of thirsty camels, The Times reports.

Residents of Docker River, NT, are even now trembling in their homes as a thundering herd of feral dromedaries lays waste to their town in search of liquid sustenance.

Townsfolk first noticed the vanguard of the humpbacked horde in October, as a few desperate dromedaries sought respite from Australia’s endless drought. As the weeks wore on, the thirsty beasts gradually swelled in number, cracking open fire hydrants and moisture condensers in an attempt to slake their burning thirst.

“Some people are opening their windows and all they see is camels,” Graham Taylor, chief executive of the MacDonnell Shire Council, told The Times.

Taylor has secured emergency funding from Northern Territory’s local government to hire helicopter-borne marksmen in an effort to exterminate the marauders from the air.

However, reports have emeged that a division of camels has seized control of the local airport, “causing problems with medical evacuations.”

“More and more keep arriving! The numbers are building daily!” Taylor screamed into a shortwave radio, moments before he was replaced by the sinister hiss of static.

Camels were introduced to the antipodes in the mid-nineteenth century in an attempt to tame the arid interior. Having lately cast off the shackles of human bondage, the creatures have successfully established a feral population that is estimated to exceed a million in number.

Through wanton environmental destructiveness, they have earned themselves an A$19m price on their heads. But if this month’s developments are any guide, the Australian federal government has had its work cut out.

Crazed kangaroo tries to drown man, dog

November 24, 2009

Following March’s lunatic ninja kangaroo attack, Australia’s marsupial population appears to have developed aquatic kung-fu skills, ABC News reports.

Chris Rickard, 49, of Arthur’s Creek, Victoria, inadvertantly surprised a sleeping ‘roo, which immediately sprang into the nearest body of water.

Rickard’s canine companion, Rocky, failed to suppress his instincts and gave chase, but was immediately bogwashed for his trouble.

Caring naught for the consequences, the valorous Victorian waded into the billabong in an attempt to rescue his pooch, but was rewarded with deep gashes to his abdomen and a visit to the local A&E.

“I thought I might take a hit or two dragging the dog out from under his grip, but I didn’t expect him to actually attack me,” an incredulous Rickard told ABC News from his hospital bed.

“They [Kangaroos] don’t go around killing people,” Rickard said, adding: “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch Skippy quite the same.”

Rocky, being a dog, was of course completely unharmed.

World’s oldest sheep bleats its last

November 24, 2009

The world’s oldest living sheep has shuffled off its wooly coil at the ripe old age of 23, BBC News reports.

Lucky the ewe, of Lake Bolac, Victoria failed to live up to her name during a recent heatwave.

Lucky had been hand reared from birth by Mrs Delrae Westgarth, who unsuccessfully attempted to save the animal from the stress of the 30°C scorcher by running air conditioning units in her sheep shed.

The vicenarian ovine was buried under her favourite fruit tree in a private ceremony, and is mourned by her 35 offspring. No flowers, please.

Lions slay white tiger at Czech zoo

November 23, 2009

Two lions burgled the enclosure of a rare white tiger at a zoo in the Czech Republic, killing the occupant, BBC News reports.

The big cat blue-on-blue is attributed to the zoo’s peculiar cage rotation policy. Lions and tigers share nocturnal accommodation in the same “pavilion”, and are released into separate open-air enclosures at daybreak.

But for reasons that are not at all clear, the external habitats are assigned to different species on a rota system.

The friendly-fang incident took place when the two lions — Sultan and Elsa — prised open a trap door leading to their previous accommodation, perhaps in an attempt to reclaim their old territory, and surprised Isabella, the new occupant.

Staff rushed to respond to the tigress’ cries for help, but in vain.

Head-scratching zoo director David Nejedlo told the BBC: “The current security system has been in place for 12 years and such an accident has never happened before.”

Obese Dalmation’s owner sent down for cruelty

November 19, 2009

A Cheshire man has been convicted of animal cruelty for allowing his dog to grow immensely fat on crisps and chocolate, BBC News reports.

Barney, an 8-year-old Dalmation, had doubled in size on a diet of titbits proffered from the hand of its owner.

Semi-conscious court reporters roused themselves sufficiently to note that the collossal canine had ballooned to double its recommended weight of 35 kg.

John Green, of Macclesfield, Cheshire, had repeatedly been warned by RSPCA body-image fascists that Barney no longer conformed to prescribed norms, yet their advice went unheeded.

The spotted slob was eventually placed in protective custody by the RSPCA, presumably with the aid of a fork-lift. He has subsequently shed almost half his weight while awaiting rehoming.

Green pleaded guilty to causing “uneccessary suffering to an animal”, but in mitigation pled that he saw Barney more as a friend than a pet, and had never intended to harm the dog.

Canine obesity is sufficiently widespread that it warrants its own website. Indeed, mutt nosh manufacturer Purina claims that a literally “staggering” quarter of all UK dogs are overweight.

Leech collars Aussie perp for armed robbery

November 19, 2009

A blood-sucking leech colluded with DNA-profiling Australian police to bring an armed robber to justice, National Geographic News and Associated Press report.

In 2001, two men burgled the home of a Tasmanian woman and stole “several hundred” Australian dollars. Perspicacious Aussie plod discovered an engorged leech at the scene, and promptly bagged it.

Peter Cannon was arrested some seven years later on an unrelated dope charge, and had his DNA profile taken as a routine part of the Tasmanian police’s investigation.

Astoundingly, the police were able to match his DNA sample to the stomach contents of the crime-fighting invertebrate. Cannon faces up to 21 years in jail if a conviction is secured.

His accomplice, who presumably avoided the advances of the haemophagic gumshoe, remains at large.

Hiker battles bear with iPhone

November 2, 2009

Bear attack? There’s an app for that.

A Vermont hiker warded of a bear attack armed with nothing more than her trusty iPhone, CNet News reports.

Kris Rowley, Chief Information Security Officer for the state of Vermont, was enjoying a wilderness hike when she noticed a bear taking an unhealthy interest in her progress. Realising she was completely unprepared to repel the impending attack, Rowley reached for the nearest weapon — her iPhone.

“In a semi-panic, I threw the phone at the bear.”

The woodland gods smiled upon Rowley that day, as the bear eschewed the gamey tang of human flesh for the satisfying crunch of Cupertino’s most famous export.

Two days later, Rowley returned to the scene, this time armed with her trusty Louisville Slugger, and retrieved her iPhone from the mossy loam. Sadly, the device was damaged beyond repair. Nevertheless, Vermont’s indomitable CIO decided to wing a warranty request.

Unfortunately, the humourless Apple employees at her hometown’s self-appointed “Genius Bar” refused her petition, no doubt citing the following po-faced exceptions to the Apple warranty:

This warranty does not apply: … to damage caused by accident, abuse, misuse, flood, fire,
earthquake or bear attack; (c) to damage caused by operating the product outside the permitted or intended uses described by Apple (e.g. to ward off a bear attack); (d) to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (“AASP”) (e.g. a wild bear); … (f) to consumable (i.e. edible) parts, such as batteries, unless damage has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (g) to cosmetic damage, including but not limited to scratches, dents and broken plastic on ports (e.g. by scoffing, nibbling, chomping, gumming, nomming or otherwise attempting to consume said device or parts) ; or (h) if any Apple serial number has been removed or defaced (e.g. by a bear).

The moral of the story? Fight bears if you must, Goldilocks, but don’t mess with the mighty Apple.

(Thanks are again due to Tim, whose horoscope this week includes an unexpected visit from a tall, dark and extremely hairy stranger)

Tortoise cheats death on London motorway

November 2, 2009

A tortoise narrowly avoided coming to a sticky end on the M25 thanks to the intervention of an eagle-eyed motorist, BBC News reports.

John Formby, of Worthing, West Sussex, had his interest piqued when some debris on the slip road at Junction 7 of the London Orbital unexpectedly sprouted a head.

Formby immediately pulled over to the hard shoulder, dodging traffic to bring the kamikaze chelonian to safety.

“Some other cars were coming up and a couple went round the tortoise. Two cars and a van drove straight over it, straddling it, but it didn’t go back into its shell,” he told the BBC.

Having secured the creature in the footwell of his car, Formby stopped at a local supermarket for some lettuce and a few tomatoes. Vets later discovered the reptilian pedestrian had been microchipped by its owners.

Billy Elliott, of Worthing and District Animal Rescue Service, who is not the ballet-dancing son of a coal miner for the fifteen millionth time thanks very much, said: “He must be someone’s pet and the family have relocated from abroad and brought him with them.”

“He’s very lucky to have survived. It would be the icing on the cake if we could reunite him with his owners.”