World's Weird News

Archive for July 2009

 Dormice asleep in the middle of the A30 in Cornwall.  Photo: EPICNEWS.CO.UK

Dormice asleep in the middle of the A30 in Cornwall. Photo: EPICNEWS.CO.UK

Endangered dormice are thriving on the central reservation of a busy road in Cornwall, and are even able to regularly cross safely to the other side, according to ecologists.
By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent

The mice, which snooze all day and hibernate for seven months of the year, usually live in quiet woodland areas or the margins of fields.

However, a year-long study, commissioned by the Highways Agency, found that a population has built up on the central reservation of the A30 at Penlan, Cornwall.

The creatures are not only thriving but appear to be able to regularly cross the busy road to forage in the surrounding area.

Leo Gubert, an ecologist who carried out the research for the Highways Agency, fitted microchips to 50 dormice.

By returning regularly to monitor the movement of the animals, he found that many were able to cross the road safely and one even managed to do it twice.

“They are not supposed to be able to walk across open spaces of grass or tarmac so this is a very surprising result. We believe that as the population increases they have been forced to disperse for breeding, or to look for food. We have suspected that they were able to cross roads but no-one has been able to prove until now.”

Dormice used to be found all around Britain but numbers have decreased recently because of intensive farming methods and loss of habitat like hedgerows and woodland.

The nocturnal animals forage for insects and seeds at night and usually live in trees.

But Mr Gubert said the animals can also live by roadsides.

“The striking thing is that the population density on the central reservation is similar to what you would find in ancient woodland. They are not ideal conditions obviously, but the dormice seem to thrive. This might be because although they are in the middle of a dual carriageway, they are less likely to be disturbed by predators such as cats and dogs.”

The Highways Agency, which has a responsibility to protect endangered animals living on the verges of roads, has had to build tunnels or rope bridges for creatures like dormice in the past.

“If we can show that dormice can cross roads by themselves and are adaptable to different environments that saves money for us as we do not have to put in mitigation methods,” said a spokesman.

However the People’s Trust for Endangered Species said dormice still require protection in order to boost numbers.



Manor is home to eight Rothschild giraffes, they are some of the rarest on earth second only to the Niger Giraffe, with only a few hundred left in the wild Photo: CATERS

Manor is home to eight Rothschild giraffes, they are some of the rarest on earth second only to the Niger Giraffe, with only a few hundred left in the wild Photo: CATERS


Guests at this hotel in Kenya must prepare themselves to share the breakfast table with some rather unusual companions – a colony of giraffes.

The 140 acre estate, run by Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley, is home to eight Rothschild giraffes – some of the rarest on the planet.

Every day shortly before 9am the animals stroll up to the house and poke their heads through the windows and doors in search of morning treats.

The Carr-Hartley’s, both 38, spend breakfast sipping orange juice and picking at croissants, literally sharing their dining table with the world’s tallest mammal.

And now the pair are sharing the mesmerising experience with the outside world – opening the manor gates to guests at the world’s first giraffe hotel.

Mrs Carr-Hartley said: “Mikey and I grew up near to this manor house when we were children.

“We are both third generation Kenyans who have always wanted to work in conservation.

“Mikey’s family have been involved in the protection of animals for many generations.

“His grandad was even involved in the relocation of giraffes as far back as the 1930s. Moving the giraffes ensured their protection and continued existence.

“When the house came up for sale we jumped at the chance to buy it as we had always dreamed of one day owning it.

“We are now absolutely overjoyed to be involved with the protection of this very endangered species.

“Having the giraffes so close is very special and something which people can now experience by staying in one of the six rooms at the hotel.”

Giraffe Manor is home to eight Rothschild giraffes, they are some of the rarest on earth second only to the Niger Giraffe, with only a few hundred left in the wild.

A conservation project to save them was started at the Manor In 1974 when the grandson of a Scots Earl, Jock Leslie Melville and his American wife Betty bought the stately home.

Later that year they moved two highly endangered Rothschild giraffe into the estate where third and fourth generations live on.

As well as the herd of giraffes, the manor plays host to a large families of warthogs, exotic birds and the elusive bush buck.

Guests feed the giraffes at breakfast, but can also get up close and personal with them from the second floor bedrooms.

Mrs Carr-Hartley added: “We know all of the giraffes by name, 13-year-old Lynne is the leader of the herd and can be very persistent about getting treats

“Pretty Arlene is 15-years-old and is the smallest of the six females. She loves people and will stand below the terrace and allow people to hug her.

“She quite often loves to just hang out with us and loves to be stroked and touched.

“She had her only calf, Barney, in August 2007, they are devoted to each other and he has really come on in the last few months.

“He is still a little bit nervous about being stroked and touched but he loves kisses.

“He is currently on the cusp of a scruffy schoolboy and always has food between his horns dropped by the larger females

“He is a typical teenager – one moment a sweet little boy and next second full of attitude.

“Every day at 9am the herd like nothing better than to stroll over to the house and have a good morning stretch.

“They have special pellets which are made for race horses, but are very nutritious, otherwise they snack on twigs and leaves around the grounds.

“The giraffes bend all the way down to take treats from the front door entrance, they are very friendly.

“But guests need to keep in mind giraffes are graceful, but very powerful animals so we ask them not to approach them when they are roaming the gardens.

“The conservation of the giraffes is very important to us, the giraffes here are semi tame because they have been hand reared.

“But the previous owners ran a very successful breeding programme, where many giraffes were released into the wild and we hope to continue.”

The Rothschild giraffes that roam the estate are the second most endangered subspecies of giraffe and there are only a few hundred of them left on earth.

They lost much of their natural habitat in western Kenya and faced extinction.

The giraffes at the site grow up to more than five metres tall, weigh 1,900kg and have a life expectancy of about 20 to 30 years.

Story by the


Flowers were electrified with 80,000 volts of power to produce dazzling images of the natural world.

Story by

Robert Buelteman photographs the plant life while sending electricity through them.

The result shows roses, petunias, and even cannabis in astonishing detail.

It has taken the award-winning 55-year-old 10 years to produce just 80 photos.

Working in complete darkness, he begins by placing his chosen plant onto a metal board which he then passes the electrical surge through. He can even pinpoint areas where he wants to focus the charge using a wand and a simple car battery.

As his subject lights up with the current, and emits radiation invisible to the naked eye, intuitive Buelteman captured the moments by passing a fibre optic cable back-and-forth over the plant.

The cable emits a beam of white light that is just the size of a human hair and whatever the miniscule torch-beam touches, transfers the image onto film.

The blue haze that surrounds every leaf, petal and stalk is actually gases ionising around them as the plant is electronically shocked.

To explain the baffling process, Buelteman, from Montara, California, USA, uses a trusted analogy.

“You just have to imagine it like a painter creating a picture on canvass,” he said. “The plant is the subject just like the painter’s bowl of fruit or the person they are capturing. The electrified board I place the plants on is the canvass. The fibre optic cable emitting the light-beam is my paintbrush.

“Another way to try and understand it is like a normal photograph on a normal camera, except I am manually controlling the exposure by hand. In the same way the image I capture is simply burned onto film.”

To give the pictures an added dazzling effect, Buelteman’s aluminium canvass actually floats in liquid silicone. And to make sure he doesn’t get killed in the process, he erects a protective frame of wood around his easel.

But despite these being the first pictures of their kind in his profession, Buelteman says he has in fact invented nothing and uses a combination of age-old techniques developed decades ago.

Semyon Kirlian – developer of Kirlian photography – accidentally found in 1939 that it was possible to photograph electrical discharges at the edges of objects if that were being shocked on an electrified plate.

“When people see my work I want them to feel an awakening. The world is an amazing place and evolution has created some breathtaking things for us to look at. For me, art is about looking at the world and all it’s wonder in a new way, seeing something differently.”

Buelteman has written about the project and the techniques he uses in his book Signs of Life.

His works are being bought for a phenomenal five figures by art collectors.

By Dean Nelson, South Asia Editor. Published: 1:09PM BST 09 Jul 2009

Burger King has been forced to apologise to Hindus after it showed a revered Indian goddess with a ‘forbidden’ Whopper burger.

The fast food chain quickly withdrew the advertisement from its stores in Spain after Hindus across the world complained at the denigration of their religion.

The advertisement shows a picture of Lakshmi, the Indian goddess of wealth, above one of the burgers, which are forbidden under Hindu religion.

The ‘Texican Whopper’ is an affront to Hindu sensitivities in its own right – it includes an all-beef patty, a beef chilli-con-carne slice, egg-based Cajun mayonnaise, all forbidden by strict Hindus. Some devotees would even be offended by the inclusion of onions which they believe inflame passions.

But it is the depiction of Lakshmi which has provoked widespread anger with its suggestion that a Hindu deity eats beef.

 The advertisement shows a picture of Lakshmi, the Indian goddess of wealth, about to eat one of the beef burgers, which are forbidden under Hindu religion  Photo: EUROPICS

The advertisement shows a picture of Lakshmi, the Indian goddess of wealth, about to eat one of the beef burgers, which are forbidden under Hindu religion Photo: EUROPICS

The goddess and the burger were placed under a slogan claiming ‘La merienda es sagrada’ – the snack is sacred.

Burger King quickly withdrew the posters and issued an apology after world Hindu leaders condemned the chain for its insensitivity.

“We are apologising because it wasn’t our intent to offend anyone,” said spokeswoman Denise T Wilson. “Burger King Corporation values and respects all of its guests as well as the communities we serve. This in-store advertisement was running to support only local promotion for three restaurants in Spain and was not intended to offend anyone.

“Out of respect for the Hindu community, the limited-time advertisement has been removed from the restaurants,” she added.

Earlier this year, Burger King offended Mexican officials with another advertisement for the ‘Texican Whopper’ which depicted a dwarf dressed as a wrestler draped in the Mexican flag.

By MELANIE DABOVICH, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Guinness Book of World Records already has a largest hamburger designation on the books, but a southern New Mexico cafe is going for a spicier title: world’s largest green chile cheeseburger.

The burger, crafted by Peppers Cafe in Mesilla, features a 10-inch diameter, 1-pound burger, a half-pound of cheese and three green chiles all between two specially made buns, said restaurant owner C.W. “Buddy” Ritter.

“We sold 20 of them yesterday, and we’re very surprised they’re selling like they are,” Ritter said.

He said the cafe, which operates in the Double Eagle restaurant, sent an application to Guinness to make the burger the largest commercially available green chile cheeseburger in the world.

The $18.25 burger is made of aged beef, shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, Hatch-grown green chiles, pico de gallo and mayonnaise spread over toasted buns. Lettuce, tomato and onion accompany the burger.

Ritter said he and cafe manager Jerry Harrell came up with the idea for the burger while discussing improving menu items.

“It’s so good we didn’t know how to improve it, so the only thing I knew to do was make it bigger,” Ritter said.

Chile cheeseburgers have a following in New Mexico and are served at many hamburger joints in the Southwest.

“It’s a part of life here and if a burger place doesn’t serve green chile cheeseburgers they are going to be swamped for requests for it until they do,” said Jerry Wright, New Mexico Restaurant Association president and Albuquerque restaurant owner.

The Owl Cafe in San Antonio, N.M. has been serving their famous green chile cheeseburgers since 1945 and manager Cathy Soto said she doesn’t think she’ll have competition from the large burger.

“Everybody has a choice and everybody has their own customers. We’re famous for our green chile cheeseburger from all over the world, so there’s nothing we have to be worried about,” Soto said.

New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley is home to two other Guinness world records involving chile. The NuMex Big Jim, developed in Las Cruces, holds the record for longest chile pepper and Las Cruces restaurant owner Roberto Estrada created the biggest red chile enchilada.

Michael Jackson was obsessed with immortality and the idea of cloning himself, according to his former chauffeur Al Bowman.

Story by Telegraph

The King of Pop reportedly attended a Las Vegas conference on human cloning with longtime friend Uri Geller, according to Mr Bowman.

Mr Bowman, who drove the pair to the event in 2002, said Jackson was particularly impressed with a group called the Raelians, who believe the key to eternal life is cloning.

Remembering Jackson’s reaction following the conference, Mr Bowman said: “Jackson was very excited.

“He bounced out of that conference like a small child. He was smiling and on a high. I heard him and Uri talking in the back of the limo.

“He was talking about the prospect of being cloned. He grabbed Uri by both arms and told him, ‘I really want to do it Uri, and I don’t care how much it costs’.”

The Raelian sect, who believe the human soul dies when the body dies, believe in recreating individuals from their own genetic make-up.

They have a scientific arm called Clonaid, which regularly holds fund-raisers in order to share its latest research.

Mr Bowman, 50, Jackson’s driver for 10 years, told the Daily Mirror he remembers the singer talking about the cloning of Dolly the sheep in Britain in 1996, saying that the singer was “totally fascinated by it”.

“Michael said he wanted a mini-version of himself cloned to carry on his legacy. He was hoping that Michael Jackson could live for ever,” he said.

The Raelian movement began after a former racing car journalist, Claude Vorilhon, claimed he was contacted by an extraterrestrial who told him – in fluent French – that humans were created in laboratories by people from another planet.

The creators, known as the Elohim, a word in ancient Hebrew meaning “those who came from the sky”, told him to spread the word on Earth in preparation for their return.

Since then the Raelians have grown into an international movement, and are believed to have up to 55,000 members.

In 1997, the group founded Clonaid, who claimed to have cloned a human being in 2002.

Mr Bowman added: “I used to drive so many celebrities around LA, and so many of them became obsessed with these weird religious sects – Michael was no different. People in Hollywood are the most creative people you’ll ever meet, but they’re also the most stupid people around. They believe almost anything and then they hand over all their millions to these groups.”

By Nick Harding 3/07/2009

It’s the only restaurant in the world where the maitre d’ asks to take your coat… and your mobile phone. And any sharp objects, please sir.

Not only that – you need to book well in advance and require Home Office approval and security clearance. Welcome to The Clink – Britain’s newest upmarket restaurant and the first inside a prison.

Diners are buzzed through the solid steel  doors of HMP High Down in Surrey and escorted to their tables past 30-foot razor wire-topped walls. Inside the decor is more West End than C Wing and the attentive staff are all time-serving offenders.

The chef may be locked away for manslaughter and a convicted fraudster could be taking your order.

The head chef and maitre d’ are both former inmates, jailed for drug smuggling. But every dish prepared in The Clink is made to order from the finest ingredients, many from the prison gardens.

It’s all part of a revolutionary scheme aimed at rehabilitating prisoners and securing them jobs on their release.

The project is the brainchild of Alberto Crisci, a former chef at posh Mirabelle in Mayfair – now High Down’s catering manager.

He helped raise the money to get the project off the ground and admits: “It was an ambitious idea. I wanted a West End restaurant in the prison.”

Once locked inside, the only giveaways that you are dining at her Majesty’s pleasure are the panic alarms and the plastic cutlery.

While you can eat from china plates and drink from glass tumblers, prison rules state that no metal cutlery is allowed. For inmates on the scheme it is no easy ride. Alberto says: “I take into account the crimes they committed, their behaviour, health and risk of violence or escape.

“Prisoners only have to step out of line once and they are out. This is a real restaurant. I expect them to do exactly what I ask them to do.”

Anthony Ashford, a prisoner who works in the kitchen, loves the project. He says: “When you are rushing orders out, you forget where you are. When I go back to the wing, people ask about it. It’s created a buzz around the prison.”

There are certainly some unique chal- lenges. Wine is only ordered in for special occasions and carefully monitored. Even baking bread can be a bit of a problem. “It’s the yeast,” says Alberto.

“If you have yeast, you can produce alcohol.  

“Prisoners working here are not the problem but if it finds its way into the prison you have an issue.”  

The Clink takes bookings from individuals, companies and organisations, as well as prison staff and their families. My griddled minute steak with sauce bearnaise (£4.50) came with piping hot fresh chips and a herb salad.

It was medium rare, as ordered, with just enough chargilled flavour to add bite but not overpower the meat. The sauce was light and frothy.  

Other dishes include breast of chicken with pepperonata served with radicchio risotto and grilled plaice fillets, with spinach, broccoli and potato Salad, both for £4.50.  

The only criticism would be that the plastic knife rendered sinew a bit of a challenge.  

On the recommendation of a lady prison worker in a stab-proof vest on the next table I then pick the Bakewell tart and vanilla custard  (£1.50) and was not disappointed.  

For £6 a head I’ll definitely be dining here again… if I can get security clearance.