Knowsley baboons unpack roof-rack

July 22, 2009

Anyone considering a trip to Knowsley Safari Park in a car equipped with a roof box are advised to think again. Knowsley’s baboons have developed a technique for prizing them open.

The heftiest of the troupe leaps up and down on top of the roof box until the locks are sprung. The remaining baboons make merry with the contents of the box, as this video attests:

Park staff have served the simians with Anti-Social Baboon Orders, according to the Liverpool Daily Post

“When the first luggage box was broken into, we didn’t really take an awful lot of notice – we just thought it was a one-off incident with a faulty box or lock,” general manager David Ross told the Post.

“However, when the problem kept happening, it quickly became clear the baboons have an unfortunate new skill.”

Any resemblance between the above video and a Saturday afternoon at the Church Street Primark are purely coincidental.

Man battles mountain lion with chainsaw

July 18, 2009

The global war on wildlife took a bizarre turn this week as a mountain lion attack was successfully repelled with a chainsaw, the Associated Press reports.

Mechanic and ex-US Marine Dustin Britton was minding his own damn business choppin’ some wood when he noticed the predator observing him from nearby bushes. When the cougar pounced, Britton raised the whirling blades of the chainsaw to defend himself.

“It batted me three or four times with its front paws and as quick as I hit it with that saw it just turned away,” said Britton.

The beast retreated to its mountain lair, having been given a “six-to-eight-inch” lesson by the outdoorsman, who phlegmatically shrugged off a small puncture-wound to his forearm.

“You would think if you hit an animal with a chainsaw it would dig right in. I might as well have hit it with a hockey stick,” Britton said, acknowledging the deadly nature of English public schoolgirls.

The fractuous feline was eventually gunned down by the authorities after it attacked a tracking dog. By way of justification, Wyoming Game and Fish representatives said the lion was in “poor physical condition” and “appeared to be starving”.

In the past ten years, eight cases of mountain lion attacks on humans have been recorded in Wyoming. The state has no previous record of chainsaw attacks on lions.

Drunk badger halts traffic

July 13, 2009

An intoxicated badger brought traffic to a standstill in Germany, Reuters reports.

Polizei Niedersachen officers responding to a report of a dead badger in Goslar found an animal very much alive, albeit utterly inebriated. The macerated mustelid had apparently dined on fermented windfall from a nearby cherry tree before it wandered into the road, sang a few ribald songs, and fell soundly asleep.

Officers were initially unable to shoo the bibulous brock to safety, but eventually dislodged it with a broom.

Fermented fruit is a common cause of animal dipsomania. The most famous wilderness symposium is held annually in Africa, when elephants, baboons, giraffes, ostriches and wildebeeste eat fermenting Marula fruit and make, er… beasts of themselves.

Invading turtles bring JFK to standstill

July 9, 2009

Flights at JFK airport, New York, were brought to a standstill by an invasion of turtles, the Associated Press reports.

The leisurely incursion began at 0830 EDT when an American Eagle pilot reported three turtles at the end of a runway, causing the tower to suspend flghts for 12 minutes while ground staff herded the reptiles to safety.

Flights were eventually diverted to an alternate strip as the turtles’ numbers gradually swelled to a “massive” 78.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters told AP: “Apparently, this is something the tower has experienced before. I guess it’s the season for spawning.”

The chelonian encroachment comes six months after geese downed a US Airways jet leaving nearby La Guardia airport. Famously, the pilot successfully ditched in the Hudson with no loss of life.

Shortly thereafter, New Scientists’s Feedback column expressed disbelief that the FAA’s Wildlife Strike Database featured 80 turtle strikes.

Now we know why.

Romantic bear goes for chocolates and champagne

July 2, 2009

A lovesick bear burgled a California home in search of chocolates and champagne, California broadcaster KTVU reports.

Last Saturday, San Bernadino deputies attended a San Antonio Heights home in response to a breaking and entering call. The stunned residents had found a bear raiding their fridge, and immediately dialed the emergency services.

Sergeant Tom Alsky told KTVU the sweet-toothed intruder had eschewed the healthy choice, pushing aside vegetables in a single-minded search for the chocs. The ursine romantic had also attempted to open a bottle of champagne, apparently without success.

At press time, local florists could not recall any telephone orders placed by gruff-voiced customers.

Mashed-up wallabies create crop circles

July 2, 2009

The mystery of the crop circles that have recently appeared in Australian poppy fields has finally been resolved, the BBC reports.

Hungry wallabies in search of a meal have burgled fields of opium poppy, scoffed a few heads, and hopped around in circles “as high as a kite”, creating the arable formations beloved of stoners and New Age mystics the world over.

Speaking to a parliamentary hearing on poppy crop security, Tasmania’s attourney general Laura Giddings said: “We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles. Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high.”

Australia supplies half of the world’s legally-grown opium poppies, essential for the manufacture of morphine and methadone, used for pain relief and cleaning up smackheads respectively.

The cycle (or circle) of addiction is not confined to Australia’s indigenous marsupial population, according to Tasmanian Alkaloids spokesman Rick Rockliff: “There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting, and they all walk around in circles.”

The antipodean junkie mammals join a proud line of non-human hedonists. New Scientist gleefully reports stories of psychedelic elephants, pissed-up Malaysian tree shrews and ganja-crazed chimpanzees.

Readers interested in the usual source of crop-circles, i.e. bored cider guzzlers from Hampshire, are directed to this handy resource.

TVM Tim, who is alive to such stories.

German fox steals over 100 shoes

June 22, 2009

A fox in Germany has been found in possession of over 100 stolen shoes, Reuters reports.

The cache was discovered in woods near the town of Föhren, in Rheinland Pfalz, by forestry workers.

The vulpine Imelda Marcos had apparently half-inched the shoes from local residents under the cover of darkness.

“There was everything from ladies’ shoes to trainers,” said an unnamed police spokesman. “We’ve found between 110 and 120 so far. It seems a vixen stole them for her cubs to play with.”

Local residents expressed delight at being reunited with their lost footwear, raising further questions about the provision of shoe leather in western Germany.

Food caching strategies are well known among foxes. The poultryman’s lament, frequently heard in anti-bloodsports circles, usually takes the following form: “You wouldn’t be anti-hunt if you’d ever seen what a fox can do in a henhouse.”

Foxes routinely kill more than they can eat: an observation that, to lay observers, implies uncontrollable bloodlust in the animal. However, discovery of unconsumed prey usually indicates that a predator was disturbed before it could carry off all its kills, intended for burial as insurance against future shortages.

Whether the German fox mistook the stolen trotter cases for food, or simply had to find the perfect pair of Jimmy Choos to match her coat, remains to be learned.

Berlin chimp chomps captor’s finger

June 9, 2009

Quite literally biting the hand that feeds him, a chimpanzee at Berlin’s Zoo severed his captor’s finger, Reuters reports.

Pedro, a 28 year-old chimpanzee, attacked 51 year-old zoo director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz while he showed an unnamed companion around his menagerie. Offering the alpha chimp a snack of shelled walnuts, Blaszkiewitz instead found his index finger bitten off at the knuckle.

“Pedro is the boss of the group so he has to demonstrate a certain dominance in it to prove himself,” zoo spokesman and ape apologist Andre Schuele said.

“Under normal circumstances, a chimp would never have the chance to reach a keeper or our director,” Schuele continued, eyeing the machine gun nests and carefully-planted minefields with evident satisfaction.

While surgeons battled to reattach Blaszkiewitz’s finger, Pedro was assured that no reprisals would follow his insurgency.

Blunkett attacked by cow

June 9, 2009

These days, everyone and his dog has an opinion on MP’s expenses, including those who only ever took The Telegraph for the cricket and crossword. But now, even the livestock appear to have taken a position.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett has been attacked by a cow, BBC News reports.

The Honourable Member for Sheffield Brightside was enjoying a stroll through the Derbyshire countryside in celebration of his 62nd birthday when the ruminant took a dislike to his guide dog, Sadie. Valiantly protecting his canine companion, Blunkett fell and was trampled.

The former Home Secretary spoke to the media through gritted teeth, alive to his role as a living metaphor for the party. “I have a broken rib and am bruised all over but am still walking,” he told BBC Five Live.

When quizzed for best practice, Alison Pratt, rent-a-quote spokesperson for the National Farmers’ Union, cast the following pearls of wisdom before the attendant swine:

“The best thing to do is to let the dog off the lead so it can run away because obviously a dog can run faster than you,” she said.

“The next thing to do is to get quite quickly to the edge of the field, collect the dog and leave,” glossing somewhat conveniently over the fact that Sadie is Blunkett’s guide dog.

Blunkett added somewhat ruefully: “I know the public are furious with politicians, but I didn’t realise the anger has spread to Britain’s cow population.”

Sadie, although unavailable for comment, was unharmed.

NZ parrot steals passport

May 29, 2009

A British holidaymaker had his passport stolen by a kea, reports.

The Briton was awaiting delivery of his passport in Milford Sound, in Fiordland National Park, when the bird struck. A bus driver was retrieving luggage from a storage locker when the kea snuck in and pinched a brightly-coloured courier bag. The driver was unable to stop the feathered highwayman, who immediately flew off into the surrounding trees.

The Scotsman, who did not want to be identified (and now, of course, cannot), said: “My passport is somewhere out there in Fiordland. The kea’s probably using it for fraudulent claims or something. I’ll never look at a kea in the same way.”

Kea's new passport

A second replacement passport could take up to six weeks to reach South Island, giving the kea ample opportunity to travel in the meantime.

Apologies to readers who have been searching for British passports, only to be rewarded with an image of our avian chum above. Happy trails!