Sausage-gobbling kookaburra grows too fat to fly

June 9, 2010

A kookaburra that grew fat on flame-grilled favourites has been placed on a diet by staff at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, Reuters reports.

Visitors to a park in Sydney fed the Australian bird sausages as they enjoyed barbecues in the New South Wales city. Eventually, the snag-scoffing bird grew to a mighty 565 grams (1.2 lb), rendering it too fat to fly.

A concerned resident spotted the kookaburra being chased around the grounds by dogs, bagged the bird, and took it to the Zoo for rehabilitation.

“The kookaburra’s been down at the rehabilitation aviary for a couple of weeks on a special ‘lite n’easy’ diet designed by our bird keeper,” Gemma Watkinson, Taronga Zoo wildlife hospital nurse, told Reuters.

“Out in the wild she’d eat a whole small animal such as a mouse or skink, but butcher’s sausages are just too much of a good thing.”


Zoo chimp drowns in escape attempt

June 9, 2010

A chimpanzee has drowned during an attempt to escape from Veszprém Zoo in Hungary, pestiside.hu reports.

Ghafula, an 11 year old female, had recently been transferred to the Hungarian facility from her previous quarters in Amersfoort, in the Netherlands.

The chimpanzee failed to settle in her new home, and, in a bid for freedom, attempted to ford the eight metre moat surrounding her enclosure. She was soon out of her depth, and foundered. Keepers rushed to her aid but were unable to resuscitate her.


Benin police shoot escaped chimp

June 2, 2010

Police in Benin have shot and killed a chimpanzee that escaped from a zoo in the west African nation, Next News reports.

The death of a chimpanzee by the hands of its human neighbours in Africa is not, in itself, particularly newsworthy. But anglophone readers may find additional poignancy in the Next News report; the article is afforded lyrical qualities by the translation:

Residents of Ogba, on the outskirt of Benin City were thrown into panic penultimate week when a chimpanzee allegedly escaped from its cage in the Ogba Zoological garden and attacked some fun seekers at the zoo.

One of the “fun seekers”, Nwoke Chidozie, was forced to intervene when his “last son”, Divine, was attacked by the crazed primate. Chidozie half-nelsoned the hominin into submission, in all likelihood saving his son’s life in the process.

A spokesman for the Benin police, Peter Ogboi, told reporters: “When it became evident that the chimpanzee had became [sic] a threat to others on sight-seeing at the zoo, the best we could do was to ensure that those that have left the cage will have no access to people to injure then [sic]. At that point, what was normal was for the police to ensure that the animal does not exist.”

Thanks to the intervention of Benin City’s finest, the animal does not, anymore, exist.


Kung-fu bear footage ‘may be genuine’

June 1, 2010

Footage of a bear demonstrating extraordinary skill with the quarterstaff may be genuine, according to scientists, The Telegraph reports.

Claude the moon bear, who is currently residing at the pleasure of keepers at Asa Zoo, Hiroshima, is the latest ursine sensation to sweep the Internet nation, following the emergence of amateur footage uploaded to YouTube:

Professor Marc Bekoff from the University of Colorado told the Telegraph: “This goes beyond normal animal usage of complex tools but then again you can train seals to balance balls on their noses and train elephants to paint with their trunks, so why not this? I would guess this is the result of extreme training and would find it hard to believe the animal taught itself this spontaneously.”

Bekoff maintains that the bear’s skills are not natural — as if we needed to be told — and were probably developed in response to “extreme boredom”.

But whether Claude’s technique was honed in anticipation of the hand-to-paw combat that is certain to greet his imminent escape attempt, or was conferred upon him by ambient radiation in the traditional style of 1950’s superheroes, remains to be seen.