On the 29th December 2009 our news blog with over 2000 entries was taken down by blogger on suspicion of it being a `spamblog`. Whether this was as a result of malicious intent by persons unknown (well, we know perfectly well who they are, but you know what I mean), or as a result of over zealous spambots. However at the CFZ we like to take inspiration from the best, and so - like London's Windmill Theatre who presented nude tableaux vivant throughout WW2 - We Never Close!

Herewith the temporary News Blog.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

'Best Job' winner stung by deadly jellyfish

December 30, 2009

Ben Southall - the winner of a competition for the best job in the world - has been stung by a deadly jellyfish.

The 34-year-old Brit was just days away from the end of his six month stint at "caretaker" of Hamilton Island in Queensland when he was stung by a deadly Irukandji jellyfish.

Though tiny (they measure just 2cm) the Irukandji are extremely venomous and stings can often result in people being hospitalised, and are sometimes fatal.

Ben had been on a 'hard-earned break' from his £75,000, six-month job when he was stung while jetsking.

Given that his normal duties include scuba-diving to check on marine life and writing a blog about his experiences we are finding it a bit hard to feel sorry for him.
Speaking of the jellyfish sting Ben said: "I’ve spent nearly six months here in the tropical paradise that is Queensland and so far I thought I’d done particularly well at avoiding any contact with any of the dangerous critters that consider this part of the world their home.

"I was enjoying a post Christmas jetski session with some friends at a quiet beach on Hamilton Island and as I climbed off the back of the ski and onto the beach felt a small bee-like sting on my forearm."

Feeling hot, sweaty, sick and having a headache Ben went to see a doctor who knew instantly what it was and straight away put him on a course of treatment.

" I had a couple of injections which immediately took away the uncomfortable pain I was feeling and I slipped into a comfortable sleep," Ben added.

"I’d had a minor brush with what can be a very serious jellyfish and has led to people being hospitalised for a number of days, my slight knock was enough to tell me that it’s not something to be messed around with and I really should have been wearing a full stinger suit."


Skunk diet

30 December 2009 16:30 PM

A skunk in Britain has lost a quarter of his body weight after going on a diet.

The animal - named Mr. Bumbles - was put on a crash diet after his weight reached almost 15lb, which is twice the recommended weight for a skunk of his size.

Mr. Bumbles was given to the Tropiquaria Zoo in Somerset, South West England after his owners admitted to feeding him two greasy bacon sandwiches a day.

He has now lost 4.5lb after following a strict diet of fruit and enjoying two long walks a day.


Keep pets on leash on New Year's Eve: website

Agence France-Presse 12/31/2009 11:34 AM

SOFIA, Bulgaria – Pet owners should walk their animals on a leash during the New Year's firecracker season to prevent a surge in the number of lost animals, a Bulgarian pet-finding website urged on Wednesday.

The website www.bezdom.info, which finds homes for stray animals and reunites lost pets with their owners, said it was bracing for the traditional flood of ads for lost and found animals during the holiday.

"It's always the same reason -- animals get stressed out and panicked by the loud noises of traditional fireworks and crackers on New Year's Eve," the website said.

"Walk your pets on a leash only and during the daytime," it advised.

"If you lose your pet, do not leave the place where you last saw it, as chances are it will soon come back."


Pigs close motorway after crash

Agence France-Presse 12/31/2009 9:36 AM

LONDON – A busy motorway was closed for hours on Wednesday after an accident involving a lorry carrying a herd of pigs, posing a risk to motorists, police said.

Some 12 pigs ran around on the carriageway of the M11 motorway north of London following the early-morning crash, involving a truck carrying a load of 82 animals.

The other pigs, each weighing some 20 stones (125 kilos), were trapped in the wreckage, said a spokesman, adding that some of the escaped animals subsequently began grazing on a motorway embankment.

"The southbound carriageway has been closed at Junction 8 and the road is likely to remain shut for around six hours while recovery work and repairs to the central reservation continues," said an Essex Police spokesman.

"The northbound carriageway has also been closed and could remain shut for about two hours because of fears that the pigs could cross from the southbound lane and be a danger to road users."


Dog rescued from duck pond by 17 firemen

A dog who slipped into an frozen duck pond escaped death after a team of 17 firefighters came to his rescue.

Published: 7:30AM GMT 31 Dec 2009

Matt - an eight-year-old Cocker Spaniel - ran across ice and tumbled into freezing waters in Dean Country Park, Kilmarnock.

As the dog struggled to escape, fire crews from Kilmarnock and a water rescue unit from Ayr raced to the scene after the alarm was raised.

Using ladders and specialist equipment, they managed to reach Matt and fish the shivering Spaniel out of the pond.

Matt had been taken for a walk by his owner's neighbours when the drama unfolded.

The firefighters were hailed as heroes by grateful owner Shelia Johnston

"I still can't believe one little dog caused so much fuss and had 17 firemen looking after him. I'm so grateful to all of them," she said.

"Matt came from the SSPCA's rescue centre at Cardonald so it's actually not the first time he's been rescued - but hopefully it will be the last.

"The vets have told me he's going to be fine. They put him under the heat lamp and hair dryer as soon as he arrived at the surgery.

"He had been out for a walk with my neighbours when he ran on to the pond and fell in.

"They were as delighted as me that everything turned out all right in the end."

Stevie Logan, Kilmarnock Fire Brigade's station commander, said: "The dog was in clear distress and had been in the water for some time when we arrived.

"He was trapped in a circle of water with ice surrounding it and couldn't get out.

"The people in this case did exactly the right thing by phoning us, and not attempting to rescue it themselves.

"Too many people have drowned trying to rescue their dogs, and although it is a hard thing to do to stand by and watch the dog struggling, we do have the specialist knowledge and equipment to carry out a rescue."


Photographs capture baby panda as it tries to escape playpen

These pictures show a baby panda trying – and failing – to make a clean getaway from her playpen in the Sichuan Province, China.

Published: 8:14AM GMT 31 Dec 2009

The images of Wen Li and her twin sister Ya Li were taken at the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Institute.

They show Wen Li struggling up the side of her playpen, before losing her balance and toppling over the side. Fortunately the panda cub was caught by one of her handlers before hitting the floor.

Wen Li and Ya Li were born on July 19, 2009. Just two other pandas were born at the institute in the same year, compared to 18 born in 2008.

Researches have argued that mothers at the institute were simply too “exhausted” to have any more babies.

The institute was set up 1987 with six pandas rescued from the wild. Just over two decades later it is home to 83 giant pandas, about a third of the total pandas kept in captivity in China.

They are a source of national pride in China and their dwindling numbers have become a countrywide concern. They are the rarest type of bears and, with fewer than 3,000 still in the wild, are considered to be among the world’s most endangered species.


Lifeguards to get texts from approaching sharks

December 31, 2009 7:52 AM

Australian lifeguards will soon get text messages when Great White sharks swim near the beaches they are patrolling.

Researchers are electronically tagging the man-eating predators with GPS units which will constantly monitor their movements.

If the sharks then get too near to a beach a satellite receiver will automatically send out emails and text messages to wildlife officials and lifeguards.

Currently 74 white sharks have been tagged and there are 20 communications-equipped monitoring stations have been installed off the Perth coast.

Bosses say they hope the network will "provide timely alerts of tagged sharks' presence close to beaches" -- obviously this is unless the lifeguard is busy playing a game on his phone at the time. Australian Department of Fisheries’ Senior Research Scientist Dr Rory McAuley said: "With more monitors installed we have improved chances of hearing from tagged sharks, when they are around.

"Although sharks are being tagged to improve our understanding of the risk of attacks, it is also important that beachgoers are advised of detections."


Will Britons Lap Up Creamy Camel Milk?

11:13am UK, Thursday December 31, 2009

Ashish Joshi, Gulf correspondent

Camel milk could soon be on supermarket shelves in Europe after a Dubai-based dairy applied for an export licence.

Camelicious already sells its products across the Gulf region and now the company has ambitious plans to break the European market.

But it needs to convince EU officials the camel milk meets stringent health and safety tests.

Camelicious lawyer David Wernery says camel milk is far more nutritious than its cow counterpart.

"First of all, the vitamin C content is very much higher in camel milk than in cow's milk, about 4 or 5% more," he said.

"It is low in fat, naturally low in fat, so cow's milk has about 4%, camel milk has almost 2% fat.

"So it is like drinking skimmed cow's milk but it still has the rich texture and full body taste of normal milk."

The idea was first hatched almost 10 years ago by David's father Ulrich, who is Dubai's chief veterinarian.

He had just returned from a conference on camel husbandry in Tajikistan.

This is where he first tasted milk from the humped beast.

Mr Wernery Sr was so taken with the milk that he set about persuading his employer, Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed, to invest in his plan.

"The Bedouins who lived in the desert lived mainly from camel milk and dates," he said.

"Without camels, they would not have survived in the desert.

"The milk was a very good source of protein but it has never been used for commerce.

"When I came back from the conference, I told Sheikh Mohammed that he has wonderful race camels but they also produce milk.

"It is the white gold of the desert and I tried to convince him to open a commercial dairy farm. He was very enthusiastic.

"For two years we tested 16 camels with a camel-milking machine and a stand.

"It was then that Sheikh Mohammed called me and said 'let's start the dairy farm tomorrow'."

That small experiment has grown into a multi-million pound dairy and the specialist hand-selected herd is now over 3,000 strong.

The custom-made machinery and the state-of-the-art milking plant are top secret.

Journalists are not allowed on site because, according to the dairy managers, they "may carry infections that could compromise the camel herd".

But it's more probably because the race is on in the Arab world to farm and harvest one of the few abundantly available resources.

One problem facing potential dairy farmers is that most camels produce insufficient milk to make commercial profit.

One way around that is to invent one that does. Earlier this year scientists in Dubai unveiled Injaz, the world's first cloned camel.

She was created in a laboratory using cells taken from the ear of a slaughtered camel.

Injaz represents hope for the future of the uber camel: one that is stronger, faster and more productive.

One by-product of camel milk that is already available in Europe is chocolate.

Because it is less than 50% animal product, it is not subject to the same rules as the milk.

The chocolate is popular in the Far East and Camelicious claims it struggles to meet growing demand from its local Middle Eastern customers.

General manager Martin Van Almsick reckons once customers get over their initial reservations they are hooked after their first bite.

"What is inside the chocolate fulfils the promise. Everyone who has a chocolate in their mouth is able to tell," he said.

"Camel milk has a slightly salty taste, we tried to preserve that special quality in the chocolate and everybody can tell."

See video at: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Strange-News/Camel-Milk-Camelicious-Dairy-From-Dubai-Hoping-To-Export-White-Gold-Of-The-Desert-To-Europe/Article/200912415511568?f=rss

Woman hit by falling moose head in bar

31 December 2009

A New York woman is suing a bar - after she suffered concussion when she was hit by a falling moose head.

Raina Kumra says she was minding her own business at the White Slab Palace on the Lower East Side when the stuffed head fell off a wall.

In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, her lawyer complained: "The taxidermy moose head weighed approximately 150lbs, with antlers spanning over three feet."

Ms Kumra says it caused her "chronic neck pain, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness and other serious and severe personal injuries," including "embarrassment".

Ms Kumra, an internet design consultant, declined to comment, reports the New York Post.

But the lawsuit says that since the incident, her "overall health, strength and vitality have been greatly impaired."

The suit seeks unspecified money damages from the bar for "failing to ensure that the plaintiff and other patrons of the defendants would not be struck by the loosely affixed... moose head".

The White Slab Palace is also declining to comment.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Puerto Rico Primate breeding project controversy continues

Opponents of the Bioculture monkey breeding facility at Pueblito del Carmen in Guayama announced Tuesday that a Superior Court judge has ordered the controversial project to be halted, but an attorney for the firm is denying the claim, contending that he has not been notified.

Emil Rodríguez Escudero, an attorney for Bioculture, said through a spokeswoman, Annie Bird, that neither the company nor its lawyers have been notified of such a court decision. Olga Colón, a Pueblito del Carmen resident who supports the project, said she has received numerous phone calls from area residents saddened by the possibility that Bioculture may have to cease operations.

“If this were true it would be very sad and they are hurting the community because at least 50 individuals will now be left jobless,” said Colón, who noted that the firm has also created more than 100 indirect jobs.

The information that a Guayama judge had paralyzed the project was made by Roberto Brito, a resident of Pueblito del Carmen who has spent more than a year fighting the Bioculture facility, which has also stirred up opposition from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, politicians and actors, including Benicio del Toro.

Brito and other opponents of the facility filed a petition for an injunction in October, contending that Bioculture officials broke the law in their obtaining of permits from government agencies. They said the firm’s operations could hurt the environment and pollute the water. The company is slated to breed Macaque monkeys so they can be used, elsewhere, for scientific experiments.

Bioculture officials, who have denied that they have broken local laws, filed a defamation lawsuit against Brito in November. The reported ruling against Bioculture Tuesday was hailed by Guayama Mayor Glorimarie Jaime, who opposes the project even though the past municipal administration had given it a seal of approval. “We are not interested in having the monkeys in Guayama. If these monkeys are not going to be sold here then what is the interest in raising them here?” she told a television news station.

Colón, a school principal, said that while Brito lives in the community he does not represent the majority, who support the project. She said more than 300 Pueblito del Carmen residents out of 450 endorsed in writing the Bioculture project. “Brito is representing people who do not live in the community and is being supported by PETA. He receives Social Security and does not care about taking away jobs from the people” she charged.

Brito could not immediately be reached for comment.

She said Pueblito del Carmen is a community on the verge of extinction and in dire need of jobs. “We have up to 20 abandoned homes from people who went to the states because they could not get jobs. Our elementary school is on the verge of closing because of low enrollment,” she said. Colón also blasted the mayor for her “failure” to ensure young people in Guayama have jobs. “Jaime opposes Bioculture but has failed to provide alternatives to help her community. I am very saddened by her attitude,” she said. “As far as I am concerned, we will continue to support[Bioculture].”

World's oldest duck died


Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009 'Oldest duck' Edwina dies aged 22. A 22-year-old tea drinking mallard, thought to be one of the oldest
recorded living ducks, has died.

Edwina was rescued by Ian Knight and Christine Christopher two decades
ago after she was almost pecked to death by her family. The couple, from Ringwood, Hampshire, initially called her Edward but changed her name when she started to lay eggs.

Mr Knight said Edwina, who died on Monday, had been buried in their
garden under an ornamental duck as a memorial.


He said that when he first discovered Edwina she was being attacked by her family as she was the "runt of the litter". The family rescued her, but when Mr Knight attempted to release her
back into the wild she followed him home and had lived with the family ever since.

Edwina also became fond of tea and toast, which she would have for breakfast in the family home where she spent time living in the garden and garage. Mr Knight told BBC News the family was "devastated". "She wasn't well over Christmas because of the cold spell we have been
having and her legs became a bit wobbly.

"We were going to take her to the vet after the holidays but we found her inside her little house. It was going to happen eventually but it's like losing one of your family, I have had her since she was only a few days old."

Edwina was buried in the family's garden in a box, with an ornamental duck placed on top of her final resting place as a memorial. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) said the oldest known wild mallard in the UK is 20 years and five months. The oldest known wigeon stands at 34 years, the oldest gadwall at 21 and the oldest teal at just over 18 years. But the oldest wild duck on record is a sea-duck called Eider at 35 years and six months.

The birds' ages have been calculated through the BTO's ringing scheme.

MOOSE ATTACK (well sort of)


NEW YORK - A Web designer says she was struck by the decor at a New York City restaurant - when it fell on her head. Raina Kumra says in a negligence lawsuit filed last week that a 150-pound stuffed moose head with 3-foot-wide antlers plummeted off a wall at the Scandinavian-themed White Slab Palace onOct. 4 and hit her. She says she suffered a concussion and other injuries.The owner of the Manhattan restaurant hasn't returned a telephone message left by The Associated Press. Nor has Kumra, who's representing herself inthe case.Kumra filed her lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. She's seeking unspecified damages

'World's best job' man stung by tiny, lethal jellyfish


Page last updated at 05:39 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009
'World's best job' man stung by tiny, lethal jellyfish

The man who landed what was dubbed "the best job in the world" as the caretaker on a tropical island off Australia has been stung by a lethal jellyfish.

Briton Ben Southall, who beat 34,000 applicants to secure the position, was stung during his last week in the job.

The culprit was the peanut-sized Irukandji jellyfish, whose venomous sting can be lethal.

In his blog, which he keeps as part of his job, he describes the incident as "a little sting on the beach".

But it was his progressive symptoms of fever, headache, lower back pain, chest tightness and high blood pressure that led doctors to diagnose the sting.

"I thought I'd done particularly well at avoiding any contact with any of the dangerous critters that consider this part of the world their home," Mr Southall writes in the latest update to his online diary.

Stinger suit

"I've avoided being boxed by a kangaroo, nibbled by a shark and bitten by a spider or a snake - but then in my final few days on Hamilton Island I fell foul of a miniscule little creature known as an Irukandji," his blog continues.

The jellyfish - which struck as he descended from a jet-ski - is virtually invisible to the naked eye and can be deadly - in 2002 two tourists died after being stung.

It is so small it can pass through the nets that protect popular swimming spots in Queensland from larger jellyfish.

But Mr Southall - who has fully recovered after a dose of antibiotics and rest - admitted that he had been inadequately dressed for the excursion.

"It's not something to be messed around with. I really should have been wearing a full stinger suit, as is recommended at all beaches here this time of year," he said.

Mr Southall, 34, a charity fundraiser from Hampshire had to undergo a gruelling selection process to get the A$150,000 ($134,000) role - including swimming, snorkelling and one-to-one interviews.

Leopard cat found for 1st time in decades on Tsushima's lower island

Leopard cat found for 1st time in decades on Tsushima's lower island
Dec 29

NAGASAKI, Dec. 29 (AP) - (Kyodo)—A rare leopard cat has been found for the first time on the lower island of Tsushima, in Nagasaki Prefecture, directly confirming their existence there for the first time in more than two decades, conservation officers said Tuesday.

The highly protected Tsushima leopard cat, one of two species of wildcats found in Japan, was until recently feared to have completely disappeared from Tsushima's lower island, though as many as 150 are thought to still survive on its upper island.

Officers of the Tsushima Wildlife Conservation Center said the 1,130- gram juvenile, a male thought to have been born only last spring, was found in a weakened state Monday on the property of a company in Izuhara town by an employee who notified authorities.

Officials of the Tsushima Wildlife Conservation Center, established by the Environment Ministry to study the Tsushima leopard cat and assist in recovery of the critically endangered species, were summoned to the scene.

They said the rescued feline, apparently suffering from malnutrition, is currently being nursed back to health at the center.

Leopard cats leave their mother's home range 6 or 7 months after birth, at which time they must struggle to survive on their own.

The Tsushima leopard cat, which is about the same size as a domestic cat but can be distinguished by a white spot on the back of each ear, is thought to have arrived on Tsushima from the Asian continent about 100,000 years ago.

The 696-square-kilometer mountainous territory of some 40,000 people lies in the Korea Strait, only 49.5 kilometers off the Korean Peninsula and 138 km away from Kyushu Island. It separated into two main islands by artificial waterways.

Kamijima, Tsushima's larger and less populated upper island, is home to an estimated 80-110 of the small wildcats, down from an estimated 250-300 in the 1960s, conservation officers said.

But on Shimojima, the lower island, the last confirmed wildcat sighting was in March 2007 when an automatic camera took a photograph of one, confirming their existence there for the first time since 1984 when one was found dead along a road, they said.

Wildlife officer Shinsuke Mizusaki said the leopard cat's numbers have been declining throughout Tsushima mainly due to habitat loss and road kill. Since 1991, 42 of the wildcats have been killed on Kamijima roads, including one earlier this month.

To reverse the decline of the Tsushima leopard cat, which was designated by the Japanese government as a Natural Monument in 1971, it was declared a National Endangered Species in 1994 and a government-funded project was established to protect it.

The project involves field research, habitat restoration, captive breeding and public education about threats to the wildcats which also include diseases carried by domestic cats, illegal snare trapping and feral dogs.

In recent years, the Japanese government has been studying the feasibility of reintroducing wildcats to Shimojima.

The Tsushima leopard cat, which goes by the scientific name Prionailurus bengalensis euptilura, is regarded as an isolated subspecies of the leopard cat, found across Eurasia.

Japan's other wildcat species is the Iriomote cat, or Prionailurus iriomotensis, found on the island of Iriomote in southern Okinawa Prefecture.