The Great Escape: Lottie the runaway tortoise is found a mile-and-a-half from home (but it took her two years to get there)

By Chris Brooke

Maddie Tibble with Lottie the tortoise who was found only a mile-and-a-half away from home after going missing for two years

Maybe she was born to be wild.

Just two days after Lottie the tortoise moved to live with her new owners in a suburban family home, she disappeared and set off on an incredible journey.

The enterprising reptile escaped out of the back garden, into the adjoining school playing fields and the big wide world beyond.

Schoolgirl Maddie Tibble was naturally very upset when she discovered her tortoise, given as a ninth birthday present, had gone and eventually accepted she would never see the little creature again.

But amazingly, almost two years later, Lottie was found plodding down a road on the far side of the playing fields.

True to the reputation of these most sluggish of creatures, the tortoise had travelled just one-and-a-half miles in all that time.

Yet despite fending for herself and having to endure one of the hardest winters in decades, she survived in fine health.

Lottie was handed in to the local vets in Grays, Essex, who was able to return the pet to her astonished owner because she had been fitted with a microchip.

'I just didn't believe it was her,' said Maddie, 10. 'I was really shocked I just thought it must be another tortoise, but I am so pleased to have her back.'

Her mother Beth Tibble, 44, was equally taken aback by the discovery. The tortoise vanished in August 2008 and has just been found.

She said: 'We are so pleased to have Lottie back and in good health. We live on the back of William Edwards School playing fields and all I can think is that she has been plodding around there for this whole time.

'Maddie was so upset. We did get a new tortoise but we gave it away because it was just not the same.'

Lottie the tortoise was found plodding down a road on the far side of playing fields adjoining the Tibble's back garden

Doubtless a hare could have made the journey across the fields and down nearby Blackshots Lane in a matter of minutes.

But Lottie took her time and spent 22 months to emerge into the open and be spotted by a animal-friendly passer-by.

Vet Lizzie Rigby, 36, checked Lottie over and gave her a clean bill of health. She said: 'We looked her over and then checked for a microchip with a scanner and she had one.

'We then contacted the chip company to get the owner's detailed and found she had been missing for two years. We were amazed, considering she was in such good nick.'
Miss Rigby added: 'Tortoises are quite slow, she didn't get very far, who knows where she has been?

'She must have found somewhere to curl up and hibernate for the winter. We were very surprised because the last winter was so cold but she survived.'

Angela Wilkinson from the British Tortoise Society said: 'It's incredible, absolutely incredible that this tortoise has been found after two years.

'I once lost mine in the winter and it was found the next summer in the next garden, but this is amazing.

'She was probably in the fields eating dandelions and clover leaves and survived that way.

'It must have hibernated and dug down underground for the winter, that's what they would do naturally. They then come out again in the spring. '

Lottie is a seven-year-old Hermann's tortoise, which originate from southern Europe.

source: dailymail

Meet Shirley, the golden labrador whose sniff can stop diabetics slipping into a coma

By Lorraine Fisher

Taking the lead: Rebecca Farrar with her life-saving labrador Shirley

Having the time of her life dancing at a disco on holiday in Cornwall with her new friends, six-year-old Rebecca Farrar had no idea her life was in danger.

As a type 1 diabetic, her blood glucose levels were dropping alarmingly low, putting her at risk of hypoglycaemia, which can lead to a coma or even death, but the little girl didn't have a clue.

Across the room, her mother Claire was oblivious to her daughter's state as Rebecca looked healthy instead of being pale - the usual sign she's about to suffer an attack

Usually the situation would have led to her collapsing and an ambulance having to be called, but not this time.

For just weeks before, Rebecca had been given a labrador called Shirley, one of only eight 'hypo-alert' dogs in the country trained to detect hypoglycaemia and warn the family.

'Despite all the noise and unfamiliar smells in the room, Shirley went straight under the table to Rebecca's open medical bag and fished the sugar-testing kit out and brought it to me,' says Claire, 39.

'Sure enough, her levels were so low she was just about to collapse.'

Thanks to Shirley's early warning, Claire was able to give her daughter some carbohydrate to boost her glucose levels and avoid having to call an ambulance.

It's eight weeks since the Farrars, from Northampton, welcomed Shirley into their home - and already she has been a life saver.

Dogs have been used to help deaf and blind people for years, but their ability to detect illness in humans was only first reported in the British Medical Journal in 2004, when it was found their superior sense of smell - more than 100,000 times more sensitive than humans' - could pick up traces of bladder cancer in urine.

Since then, the Cancer and Bio-Detection Dogs charity has been investigating other ways dogs can help humans and discovered dogs can spot signs of both hypoglycaemia (low glucose levels) and hyperglycaemia (soaring glucose levels), providing hope for Britain's three million diabetics.

They've discovered canines' superior sense of smell can detect these changes through sweat. all dogs have the capacity to smell these changes and in theory any dog could be trained to help its owner.

Rebecca was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes - caused when the pancreas fails to produce insulin - two years ago when she was suddenly taken ill and had to be rushed to hospital.

Man's best friend: Until recently, dogs were only used to help the blind, such as these labradors, but now they are helping more and more people with illnesses

Type 1 diabetes is different from type 2, the more common variety of the condition, which tends to develop during adulthood - with type 2, insulin is still produced by the body but just not in big enough quantities.

Because of her diabetes, Rebecca has been dependent on four insulin injections every day but, as she's so young, she struggles to control her condition.

She's become so ill she's needed hospital treatment eight times, suffers up to five 'hypos' a day and her mother has lost count of the times she's collapsed and they've had to call an ambulance so that paramedics can revive her.

'Her sugar levels are up and down all the time,' says Claire, who also has a son, Joseph, who is Rebecca's twin.

'But she has no feeling when it's happening. her face goes white, her eyes start rolling and her legs go wobbly. it's as if she's drunk. Trying to get her to eat can be a nightmare - I can't get it through to her how important it is.'

While Rebecca isn't banned from eating any particular food, she should only have something sugary, such as her beloved ice cream, when she's eating a meal because it's then she receives her insulin injections.

Insulin: Diabetes can be controlled by regular injections

But, as her glucose levels can be too high as well as too low, it's a balancing act. exercise can reduce her levels and, as she loves swimming, she's treated to a bar of Kit Kat immediately after she leaves the pool, to increase the sugar in her body.

As she gets older Rebecca will begin to understand her condition, but until the arrival of Shirley it was Claire who shouldered the responsibility.

'I had to give up my job in retail so i was available at all times to dash to the school if she fell ill,' she says.

'And for nearly two years i didn't sleep through the night, I just catnapped because I was so worried she'd slip into a coma and i wouldn't be able to wake her.

'Diabetes is a life-threatening disease that could kill her at any time.'

So when Claire's mother, Diana, saw an article in a local newspaper about hypo-alert dogs, they immediately applied.

Shirley had originally been trained by the charity guide Dogs for the Blind association, but had to be replaced because she didn't like her harness.

But not before her owner, himself a diabetic, had noticed she always licked his hand just before he became hypoglycaemic.

The charity retrained her and Shirley now wears a bright yellow 'medical alert dog' bib.

'I didn't realise how much she would change our lives,' says Claire. 'Rebecca's not had a single hypo when Shirley's been around and she's never been wrong.'

Shirley licks Rebecca's hand to warn her and, if ignored, goes off to fetch her mother.

The only time Shirley's not by her owner's side is when Rebecca's at school.

'Shirley watches over Rebecca all night and needs a break,' says Claire. 'So we take her bib off and she becomes a different dog - like a puppy, chewing toys and being naughty. She's worth her weight in gold - I can sleep at night.'

source: dailymail

Eat your heart out Stuart Little: Radical rodents become the world's first surfing mice (on their own tiny boards)

By Mail Foreign Service

Radical rodent: Skidmark the mouse rides a wave on his custom-made mouse surf board at Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia this year

Being able to stand up on a surfboard is a feat to be proud of - especially if you happen to be a mouse.

These are the incredible surfing mice, who are conquering the ocean on custom-built, tiny surfboards.

Eight-month-old males Rocket, Peanut, Skidmark and Banzai have learned all the skills they need to maneuvre breakers on the beach.

And it's all down to boat builder Shane Wilmott, 39, who spotted their talent.

He hand crafts miniature mouse-sized replicas of real surf boards and teaches his amazing troupe how to master them.

They are even able to turn on the boards while travelling by shifting their weight.

Mr Wilmott, who breeds mice in his Gold Coast, Australia home, said: 'Contrary to popular belief mice are actually unbelievable swimmers - so if they come off they are fine to paddle around until I collect them.

'A lot of people ask me if fish are sharks to them and worry they might get eaten. Gulls are actually a more realistic threat so I have to stay close by to make sure my guys are safe.

Wipe out! One of the mice loses control of his board - but trainer Shane Wilmott claimed there was nothing to fear, as mice can swim

'But I made a promise to myself that if one of my mice gets hurt I will stop. I only do it because I feel they are safe.

'These guys aren't just my pets, they're my mates too so I care about them a lot.

'It's a really stimulating way for them to live. Much more than just being stuck in a cage all their lives.'

Mr Wilmott taught his first mice to surf 25 years ago when he was a teenager.
'Me and a few mates were hanging out at the beach and watching these perfect little waves form close to shore.

'I remember wishing I was small so that I could have a go on these perfect specimens and then it hit me that a louse on a tiny board could.'

Steady: The mice do need a bit of help getting started on each wave from trainer Shane Wilmott, above, being unable to paddle with their tiny paws

He recently had the urge to redevelop the boards and, using his boat-building skills, now makes the best miniature surf boards in the world.

Pet mice Rocket, Peanut, Skidmark and Banzai are reaping the benefits.

Mr Wilmott said: 'I teach them how to do it in the bath at first so they can get used to their custom-made boards.

'Once they've got some confidence we move out to the pool in my back yard and tow them using a remote controlled boat.

'That gets them very proficient travelling at the speed of the little waves at the beach and then they are ready to do it for real.

Crowds often gather in amazement to watch the tiny surfers do their thing.

'People can't believe it,' Mr Wilmott said.

'They see the tiny boards but they don't realise there are real mice actually riding the waves until they come over for a look. It really makes people smile.'

source: dailymail

The real 'Hairy Biker': Smudge the dog rides 11,000 miles around Europe ... on the back of a Tiger

By Daily Mail Reporter

Walkies is for wimps: Smudge loves nothing more than riding motorbikes around Europe with her owner Rob Fuller

Any biker will tell you there's nothing like the thrill of the wind rushing through your fur on the open road.

While your average Jack Russell is more at home with walkies, Smudge has taken to motorbikes like a real road dog.

The three-year-old terrier has clocked up more than 11,000 miles biking around Europe by riding side-saddle with her owner Rob Fuller on his Triumph Tiger.

Easy rider: Smudge has toured Europe on the Triumph Tiger

Smudge, who travels on the bike attached to Rob in a leather pouch, has seen everywhere from the French Alps to the Czech Republic.

Not to be outdone by her human counterparts, the punky pooch even dons a pair of 'doggles' when she hits the road to protect her eyes.

'Smudge must be one of the most popular dogs in Europe. We've been invited to visit fellow bikers in countries all over the world by people we've met on our rides

Seasoned biker Rob, 50, from Hull, has been taking Smudge biking with him since she was a puppy.

He said: 'Smudge loves being on the bike, and it's a bit more fun for her than getting stuck in kennels for a month while I'm away.

'She took to it like a duck to water. I don't know how she does it, but she knows how to ride a bike.

'She knows how to lean in when we go round corners, and she's got great balance.

'I used to work as a lorry driver, and I took her with me as a pup for a bit of company in the cab. She was with me 24 hours a day.

'It seemed a shame to leave her behind when I went out on the bike, so I thought I'd try her on the bike. Luckily, she loved it.'

Ron's wife, Lyn, often joins the pair on their European rides but is forced to ride alongside on her own bike, rather than jumping on the back of her hsuband's machine.

Biking for hours at a time can take it's toll on a little dog's bladder - but Smudge has a system for letting her best friend know when nature calls.

The little dog will raise a paw and tap Rob on the elbow as the pair are speeding through the countryside - and doesn't take her paw off Rob until he's pulled over to a suitable stratch of grass.

Rob, who has been biking since he was a teenager, said: 'It was something I was slightly concerned about the first time I strapped her onto the bike, but I had nothing to worry about.

'I'm probably the only biker that has to carry a roll of plastic bags in my leather jacket though.'

Smudge's unusual form of transport has sparked interest from other bikers - who all think Rob is barking mad. He said: 'We always get a lot of attention wherever we go, from other bikers and members of the public.

'Smudge must be one of the most popular dogs in Europe. We've been invited to visit fellow bikers in countries all over the world by people we've met on our rides.

'So far, Smudge and I have ridden through Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic - and we're not stopping anytime soon.

'Everyone thinks Smudge is great, but they all say there's no way they'd ride with a dog strapped to their chest.'

source: dailymail

Ex-Likely Lad Rodney Bewes wins war with Beatles widow over razor wire fence that 'nearly killed' his cat

By Daily Mail Reporter

Victory: Rodney Bewes had complained about Olivia Harrison's plans to renew 985m of razor wire around her property after his cat Maurice repeatedly injured himself on it

Likely Lads actor Rodney Bewes has claimed victory in a long-running battle over a garden fence with the widow of ex-Beatle George Harrison.

Mr Bewes claimed Olivia Harrison’s fence ‘almost killed’ his beloved cat Maurice and had objected to her plans to renew 985m of razor wire around her £20m Oxfordshire Mansion.

He said Maurice had been injured on the existing fence several times and once nearly died after severing an artery.

Mr Bewes had written to the South Oxfordshire District Council claiming the barrier made the area ‘look like a war zone’ and yesterday said he was ‘delighted’ after the new fence was put up without razor wire.

‘It looks rather lovely,’ he said.

‘I’m very grateful to Mrs Harrison for her decision.’

Last year Mr Bewes said: ' Maurice has been injured on that fence several times, once severing an artery that nearly killed him. It has cost me thousands in vet's bills.

The Harrison and Bewes homes and the location of the fence

The razor wire which used to surround the Harrison estate

'There are several other cats, people's pets, that have been practically gored on that fence - it's dangerous.'

Mrs Harrison, 60, erected the fence after a horrific attack on her husband at their home in Henley-on-Thames in 1999.

A schizophrenic broke into their home and stabbed the musician seven times in a frenzied attack which was stopped only when Mrs Harrison knocked the thug unconscious with an oil lamp.

The 6ft high fence, which is topped by razor wire, was intended to deter any more intruders. Harrison died from cancer in 2001.

During the dispute Mr Bewes admitted he understood his neighbour's security fears

Safety concerns: Olivia, with her late husband George Harrison, still feels her Oxford home requires high security

'It was a horrific thing to have happened, no one is arguing about that, but is the danger and the threat really still there?' he said.

'It doesn't make it any more secure. The bottom half is wood and with a good crowbar you could get through it no problem.

'It makes me sad when I come home to such a beautiful place and see this thing that makes it look like a war zone.

'If everybody had razor wire around their gardens can you imagine what it would look like?'

Mr Bewes's wife Daphne said their cat seemed to come home injured on an almost daily basis.

She claimed that when he severed his artery, he could have died.

On another occasion, she said, he almost lost part of his tail, and the couple have had to cancel trips abroad to nurse their trouble-prone pet.

An incredible aerial view of the Harrisons' enormous home in Oxfordshire, complete with turrets, where the former Beatle was once stabbed

source: dailymail

Inbred and blind in one eye: Princess Abby is crowned World's Ugliest Dog of 2010

By Mail Foreign Service

We have a winner: Inbred Chihuahua Princess Abbey is officially the World's Ugliest Dog

An inbred Chihuahua's curved back and legs and closed-up left eye have earned the four-year-old rescue dog top honors at the World's Ugliest Dog contest at a Northern California fair.

Sporting a gray, brown and black coat, Princess Abby Francis beat a rough-looking raft of candidates for the prize, including Pabst, a teeth-bearing boxer mix who also competed last year.

Princess Abby shivered in the cool breeze after her win Friday night while nestled in the arms of her owner, Kathleen Francis, who received a $1,000 check at the 22nd annual contest held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma.

Strutting her stuff: The winning hound's permanently arched back and inverted floppy foot are the result of inbreeding

Big shoes to fill: Former winner Miss Ellie

The victory was a surprise to Francis. ‘I don't think she's ugly at all,’ she said. ‘I think she's the most beautiful dog.’

Francis says she adopted Princess Abby from her veterinarian about five months ago. This was the dog's first such contest since she was found running through the street.

Celebrity vet Karen Doc Halligan, who was also a judge for the contest, says the Chihuahua's problematic back, legs and eye may be due to being inbred.

‘She's a poster child to spay and neuter your pets,’ she said.
This year’s contest comes after the last winner’s reign was cut short by her death at the ripe old age of 17.

Chinese Crested Hairless hound Miss Ellie became the competition’s biggest celebrity after she was crowned last year.

Miss Ellie only had a couple of back teeth, cataracts in both her eyes, several moles and pimples, and limited hair.

But her owner Dawn Goehring proudly promoted her as a ‘spokesmodel for rescue dogs of the “not so cute” kind.’

'Her dream is to travel around to prove that ugly is just a word, and says nothing about how wonderful she is,' Dawn said in 2009.

'Miss Ellie hopes that people get the message that there are plenty of wonderful rescue dogs out there just waiting for a chance,' said.

She ain't pretty: Boxer mix Pabst also entered last year's contest

At the time, as well as winning a modeling contract from House Of Dog, Ellie also picked up a cheque for $1,000, a trophy to put in her kennel and even a professional photo shoot.

She went on to have a short but sweet career in resort show business in Colorado's Smoky Mountains, starring in shows at the Comedy Barn in Pigeon Forge.

She also appeared on The Animal Planet cable show 'Dogs 101' and was on billboards and in a commercial.

Pigeon Forge Mayor Keith Whaley proclaimed November 12 as 'Miss Ellie Day' for her owner's efforts to raise money for the local humane society.

Over the years, Ellie helped raise more than $100,000 (£68,000) for the Sevier County Humane Society.

Lookalikes: Two Chinese Crested Hairless hounds cuddle up to their owners

Maybe next year: Rascal, a pure-bred Chinese Crested Hairless dog with his owner Dane Andrew

source: dailymail

We've had a tough week! Exhausted pandas rest after their enormous lunch

By Mail Foreign Service

Hungry work: Four of the ten pandas at Shanghai Zoo munch on bamboo

Feeding time at the zoo is proving a rather messy affair for this pen of giant pandas in China.

After cramming as much bamboo into their mouths as possible, the black-and-white bears were then seen slumped on a specially-made climbing frame, seemingly exhausted by their efforts.

The ten Sichuan pandas were pictured enjoying their meal during their last weekend in a Shanghai Zoo before they are transferred to a nearby Safari Park.

Tired-out: Two of the pandas slump on a specially-made climbing frame, exhausted after their huge meal

The giant bears were transferred to the host city of the 2010 World Expo in January, and are set to remain there for a year-long display.

The pandas, who are each around two-years-old, were born in the Ya’an Bifeng Gorge Breeding Base of Sichuan, following the deadly Wenchuan earthquake in May, 2008.

They were brought to Sichuan to reflect China’s efforts to protect the species, which are endangered due to a shrinking habitat.

There are about 1,600 giant pandas living in China's wild, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu.

Bamboo frenzy: The cubs, which are approaching two years of age frolic in their lunch

source :dailymail

Mariah Carey sued by vet after she fails to pay $30k bill for saving Jack Russell puppy

By Daily Mail Reporter

Animal lover: But Mariah Carey is being sued for failing to pay her vets fees

Mariah Carey is being sued by her vet after failing to pay a five-figure bill for nursing back to health her Jack Russell puppy.

The vet and her staff slept with the dangerously ill newborn as they provided 24-hour care during the two-and-a-half week assignment, even making videos of the dog's recovery to send to the singer.

But multi-millionaire Mariah only paid $8,231 of the $37,790 bill, according to a suit filed by vet Condy Bressler at Manhattan's Supreme Court.

According to the New York Post Dr Bressler was called in to help when Mariah's dog Cha Cha, only six months old herself, gave birth to her first puppy.

Newborn Dolomite needed intensive care following the birth, and Dr Bressler left her New York practise to move into Mariah's mansion.

A source told the Post: 'We were up all night caring for and tube-feeding the puppy.

Mariah loves her dogs and requested the best care and that's what she got.'

Following the birth animal lover Mariah had tweeted: 'ChaCha just had her baby! Its a girl! Anybody want a beautiful Jack Russell puppy?!'

But despite her initial interest, according to court papers, Mariah only paid a fraction of the final bill.

'She [Bressler] is a doctor and Mariah acted like Dr Bressler was one of her hair or makeup people,' said the source.

Puppy love: Mariah's Jack Russell ChaCha with the newborn Dolomite

Dr Bressler did not comment, but her attorney said she 'provided life-saving, round-the clock medical care.'

'The costs were clearly communicated costs associated with this level of treatment,' he added.

Mariah's attorney said she intended to fight the lawsuit, which he described as a 'crass publicity stunt'

Seriously ill: The puppy needed 24-hour care to survive

source: dailymail

King of the swimmers: How orangutan Suryia loves a summer dip with his trainer

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last one in's a chimp: Suryia, a seven-year-old urangutan, has taken a shine to diving into a pool with bikini-clad trainer Moksha Bybee at at Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina

When people talk about getting an all-over tan for summer, they're not usually talking about getting an all-over orangutan.

But 30-year-old Moksha Bybee has the most unusual of swimming partners - a seven-year-old urangutan who clings to her as she dives beneath the surface.

The jungle-dwelling creatures are not known for their love of the water, but Suryia appears to have permanently swapped tree trunks for swimming trunks.

Smiles all round: Moksha and Suryia smile for the underwater camera, and Suryia even manages a wave

And Mrs Bybee says it's virtually impossible to keep Suryia from the pool on a nice day.

The two make an unusual sight as they lark about at the Myrtle Beach Safari park in South Carolina.

Mrs Bybee said that Suryia spent only three weeks learning how to swim and now can't get enough of his new skill.

Staff introduced Suryia to their 67ft pool after they noticed he had an unusual love for splashing around in the bath.

Woohoo! With his hair streaming back as Moksha swims through the water, Suryia certainly looks like he's having a whale of a time in the safari park pool

Swimming buddies: Moksha says Suryia only took three weeks to learn how to swim, and can now paddle up to 20ft unaided - having come up with a unique 'Borneo Crawl'

She said: 'Suryia's learning curve has been incredible. His favourite thing is to dive into the water on my back. 'When I surface he pulls at me almost to say, "Again, again".'

And he's not just a dab hand at diving - Suryia is able to swim up to 20 feet unaided using his rudimentary 'Borneo crawl'.

Staff at the park believe that the plucky seven-year-old is the world's first aquatic orangutan.

Jacuzzi anyone? Staff at the Myrtle Beach Safari believe that Suryia might be the world's first aquatic orangutan. If nothing else, he's been working on his poolside manner

source: dailymail

The jaw-dropping moment a 13ft shark swam through a packed British seaside resort

By Daily Mail Reporter

Some-fins not quite right: Children scamper about on the beach as yards away a 13ft basking shark swims past the beach in Plymouth, Devon

This is the amazing moment a 13ft shark swam just yards away from a packed beach in Britain.

Hundreds of holidaymakers had flocked to the coast of Plymouth, Devon, to soak up the summer sun and take a dip in the sea.

But the bathers on this small beach were unaware that a shark was lurking just offshore as they enjoyed the midday heat on Sunday.

It's OK, we've got him surrounded: Divers edge closer as a holidaymakers, now aware of the shark's prescence, gather on a rock to get a better view

It was spotted by a group of kayakers who had paddled 200 yards out from the beach and saw a black fin cutting through the water.

School teacher Adrian Waite, 28, was with two friends when he saw the beast and managed to take some pictures.

Adrian said: 'It was really big shark, about 13ft long.

'It's definitely not what you expect to see off our coastline and one of my friends was getting pretty scared.

'We were quite concerned and we certainly didn't want to get into its personal space so we didn't get too close.

'At one stage it was just a few metres away. As it got closer, we realised how big it was big and it was moving very fast.'

The shark was spotted off The Hoe, a very popular tourist destination where hotels and bars line the seafront.

Adrian took photographs which clearly show the fin of the creature, which has since been identified as a harmless basking shark.

The species is the second-largest living shark, after the whale shark, but feeds only on plankton, small fish and invertebrates.

He added: 'Although we were very cautious of the shark, we knew it was unlikely to be a dangerous species in this country.

'I'd heard about basking sharks before so I had a fair idea what it was. I think it was feeding as it looked like its mouth was open.

'They are pretty harmless, but I know they can get a bit nervy if they've got young with them - they can whip their tails about.'

Basking sharks are found in all of the world's temperate oceans and are passive feeders, filtering their food from up to 2,000 tons of water per hour.

source: dailymail

Chandi a diva? You must be barking

By Richard Barber

Leading the way: Tina Humphrey with her dancing dog, Chandi

Tina lowers her eyelids when I suggest it might be a TV project. We are sitting in the front room of her detached house near Shrewsbury.

*** Scroll down to watch VDO ***

The room is dominated by three baskets: one where Britain's most famous dancing dog catches up on her sleep; the other two piled high with cuddly toys.

Chandi ambles over and plonks a wet nose in my hand. She is sporting a rather dashing neckerchief in brilliant fuchsia, edged with glass studs.

TV Hit: Tina and Chandi appear on Britain's Got Talent

As the Britain's Got Talent convoy trundles around the UK and Ireland on tour, there is one act absent from the bus shuttling the excited finalists between gigs.

Where is Chandi the dancing dog, and her crisply-spoken owner Tina Humphrey? They're in the show, but travel in a chauffeur-driven car.

'It would be far too noisy for Chandi on the bus,' says no-nonsense Tina, who only the night before had been called by her new agent with an offer which would make her and Chandi his highest earning clients.

Tina can envisage a line of doggie scarves in a range of colours and Chandi cuddly toys. Then there's the possibility of books and branded dog food, 'although it would have to be strictly organic'.

The 37-year-old music teacher is far from being your typical BGT contestant. An Oxford graduate - she got a 2:1 in the history of music - she's petite and pretty, but with a streak of steel.

When Simon Cowell suggested on TV that perhaps it was time for the 11-year-old Chandi to slip into graceful retirement, Tina shot back with: 'Oh, there's life in the old dog yet.'

There is no man in Tina's life - 'there's my other half ', she says, pointing to the adoring Chandi.

While Tina was sitting her finals, her mother, Diane, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Tina stayed at home to look after her, teaching piano and violin - still does two mornings a week.

Her father, Brian, a former BBC sound engineer, also succumbed to cancer. Tina's bond with Chandi is all the deeper for these losses.

'On the day I went to the local pound to choose a dog, Chandi was brought in. 'We think we're in charge of our own destiny, but we're not. Chandi and I took one look at each other and that was it. We are at the very centre of each other's worlds.'

Her first rescue dog had been a stray she named Pepper. Tina trained her and they won prizes in dog agility shows together.

Chandi, whom she acquired in 1998, also proved a natural. Tina has cabinets groaning with trophies and in 2007 auditioned for BBC1's When Will I Be Famous? hosted by Graham Norton.

'We won our heat and £10,000,' says Tina.

It was money sorely needed because Pepper was now ill. 'All our winnings went towards trying to save her life.'

The BGT exper ience proved exhausting. 'On the Monday after it ended, I was tearful all day,' says Tina. 'It had been such an overwhelming experience, the focus of my life for six months since my first audition just before Christmas.'

There have been whisperings that Tina's protective demands for Chandi were turning her into a diva.

'Rubbish,' she says robustly. 'All I asked for was a separate dressing room, so that Chandi could have some peace and quiet and a fan to keep her cool.'

And what about the suggestions that they had no right to be on the show in the first place, because Chandi is an established showbiz dog?

Tina snorts indignantly. 'She's no more a showbiz dog than I'm a showbiz person,' she says.

For the BGT tour details and to book tickets, visit

PS. Kate and Gin did OK. Just ask Oprah

Kate Nicholas with Gin

Two years before Tina and Chandi, another novelty dog act reached the BGT final.

So,what happened to student Kate Nicholas and her farm collie, Gin?

‘I left my animal management studies early because I was in such demand after the show,’ says Kate, now 18, who has another Collie, a two-year-old called Ice

‘We’ve done Butlins and arenas all over the country. We work almost every day and make a good living out of it.’

Kate has been to America twice with Gin, appearing on TV programmes, including Oprah, and in a dog bed commercial.

source :dailymail

Oscar the bionic cat: Pioneering surgery gives poor moggie TWO false back legs

By Liz Thomas

Oscar, the cat with a pair of prosthetic paws, courtesy of neuro-orthopaedic surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick

Nine months ago he was fighting for his life after an horrific accident cost him both his back paws.

Now Oscar is a bionic cat after pioneering surgery to give him prosthetic back paws.

The two year-old moggie is understood to be the first in the world to have the operation to attach new feet.

Oscar was operated on by groundbreaking veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick.

Healing with prosthetics, titanium and other metals – he sounds like the stuff of science fiction.

But actually he is the modern answer to All Creatures Great and Small and now he – and Oscar – are set to be the stars of new BBC show The Bionic Vet.

The series follows Fitzpatrick, 40, as he tries to save animals using cutting edge technology, while Oscar is the star of the first episode.

An image of a pre-operation scan of Oscar's leg

Viewers will hear how beautiful black cat had his black paws sliced off by a combine harvester after he had gone out to play in fields near his home.

Losing blood and barely conscious he was close to death when he was found and owner Michael Nolan was warned to expect the worst.

The bank manager from Jersey said: ‘He was out in the corn fields. He was found by a neighbour. He had no back feet left it was horrific. There was blood everywhere.

Bits of his skin were hanging off.’

Both his back paws were severed, and while cats can survive with good quality of life with three legs, they cannot with two.

Fitzpatrick devised a way of attaching prosthetic ‘paws’ to Oscar’s ankle in both back paws.

‘We will have to put new feet on him or put him to sleep. The procedure has never been done before.’ said the vet.

The audience will see how over a three hour operation he drilled holes into the cat’s legs and inserted metal rods into his ankle bones.

These cutting edge implants – known as an ITAP and developed by University College London – attaches to the bone at the point of amputation.

It sticks out of the skin enabling a prosthetic paws to be attached.

These have been specially made with a degree of wobble to enable Oscar to walk, climb and run.

The groundbreaking new paws are similar to the style of Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius’s ‘blade runner’ style prosthesis.

But Oscar will now have to be a house cat because the false limbs are not suitable for outdoor life.

Noel Fitzpatrick, neuro-orthopaedic surgeon, and kennel assistant Jane Kilner, with Oscar the cat

Fitzpatrick admits that he has become a last hope for desperate owners who have run out of options for their beloved pets.

The first episode also follows Mayo an eight year old Labrador crippled by arthritis who faces being put down.

Fitzpatrick said: ‘Mayo’s foot has completely collapsed. He can’t walk. His foot is hanging off.

If we can’t fix this then we will have to put him to sleep.’

His owner Janice Lock added: ‘His normal vet said there was nothing more that he could do for him. This is his last chance.’

Inspired by X-Men character Wolverine who has a metal bonded to his skeleton Fitzpatrick inserted a number of rods into Mayo’s paw to help fuse the bones before constructing him a horseshoe shaped artificial foot made of metal and rubber.

Both procedures cost thousands of pounds but most is covered by animal insurance.

Fitzpatrick has insisted he is not simply experimenting what can be done on animals and will only operate if he feels the quality of life is improved.

He explained he would not perform surgery if it prolonged the animals life but left it in pain.

‘I know where to draw the line. Animals are sentient creatures, with needs and wants. Doing a procedure just because it can be done is not ethical. I’ll only do it if the perceived outcome improves the animal’s quality of life.’

Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans asked Fitzpatrick to help his beloved German Shepherd Enzo who had two herniated discs in his spine, leaving him paralysed and in pain.

Fitzpatrick operated two years ago performing a £5,000 procedure on the nine-year-old dog had two bolts inserted in the middle of his spine to fuse two vertebrae.

But a year later when Enzo’s condition deteriorated the pair opted to put the dog down rather than put him through anymore surgery.

His surgery Fitzpatrick’s Referrals in Surrey is a state of the art facility that would rival many human hospitals.

The centre includes a MRI room, and a hydrotherapy pool, and he often works with human doctors.

In a recent procedure for a Belgian shepherd, who was given a unique prosthetic paw attached to a titanium rod implanted directly into Storm’s fore leg. He worked with a human plastic surgeon to help join the dog’s skin with the metal prosthetic.

The operation has been a success and Storm has been so active he has to have his prosthetic replaced after wearing it out.

Oscar is fed by the pioneering British surgeon who gave him two false feet

Fitzpatrick is also working with Formula One mechanics to get the best material for his fake paws.

In a recent interview he insisted the technology could provide benefits for humans in the long term.

‘The technology will act as a model for human amputees in the future, and provide hope for people without feet or hands,’ he said.

Fitzpatrick, who tried his hand at acting for a few years, said he first decided he wanted to be a vet after growing up on his family’s farm in Ireland and failed to save a baby lamb.

The Bionic Vet starts on Wednesday June 30 at 10.45pm

source: dailymail

Would you like yours boiled, scrambled or split? The bizarre banana-shaped egg

By Daily Mail Reporter

Breakfast time? The odd shaped egg found in Wuyuan, Anhui province of China

It's not what you'd usually expect to come across while settling down for breakfast, but this strange looking object is actually a seriously misshapen egg.

Discovered in the Anhui province of China, the curved egg has taken on a similar shape to a banana.

But whether it's scrambled, soft boiled or fried, it will no doubt be difficult to find anyone prepared to eat it.

Misshapen eggs are common, but the varying shapes differ with each strain of bird.

However they are most often produced by pullets coming into lay, or hens late in lay, often as a result of double ovulation.

Meanwhile a British family were thrilled today after their chicken set a new world record by laying fourteen eggs - in one day.

The heavyweight hen - named Sarah - produced more than a dozen of her own eggs - in just over two hours.

Egg-stra special: Misshapen eggs are common, but the varying shapes differ with each strain of bird

Owner Debbie Armstrong, of Newquay, Cornwall, says the bird has only ever previously laid one each morning.

But last week the plucky chicken produced 14 eggs in a day - which experts say is a world record.

'It was over two hours that she laid fourteen eggs. She laid one when I was holding her.

'I couldn't believe it. I researched it on line and found most chickens only lay one or two a day. So this is a lot more than that.

'I'm just glad she hasn't died. I was getting increasingly worried about her as she had been acting broody lately.

The heavyweight hen: Sarah left experts shell-shocked after laying 14 eggs - in one day
'But since she laid the 14 eggs, she seems a little more happy.

'I've spoken to farmers who have all said they haven't heard a chicken laying that many eggs in such a short space of time.

'Others farmers think she could be worth a lot of money.'

The hen is owned by Debbie and her son Toby, eight, who helped collect the eggs.

Debbie said: 'Toby had some friends over at the time. The eggs kept coming again and again.'

Andrew Pooley, secretary of the caged bird society at the Royal Cornwall Show, said hens normally only lay one or two eggs a day.

He said: 'I've heard chickens that lay two in a day - one in the morning and one at night - but never 14. The shells need time to develop.'

source: dailymail

Monkeying around: Michael Jackson's sister LaToya visits her brother's favourite chimp Bubbles

By Mail Online Reporter

Sister and chimp reunion: An emotional LaToya Jackson shares a moment with her late brother Michael's former pet chimp, Bubbles

Nearing the anniversary of her brother's death on Friday, LaToya Jackson had an emotional reunion with Michael's former pet Bubbles the chimpanzee.

As part of an Animal Planet documentary, she visited the ape at his Florida sanctuary.

On her way there, LaToya confessed that she was 'really looking forward to seeing Bubbles, more than anything else'.

Behind bars: Apart from a few grey hairs, Bubbles still looks the same as when he was young, according to LaToya

Michael's big sister claimed that she hadn't seen Bubbles for '20 something years' and her excitement was palpable.

Unfortunately, Bubbles' enthusiasm at the long-awaited reunion didn't match LaToya's and he remained pretty stoic as he gazed sadly from behind bars.

LaToya, 54, said the chimp used to 'eat at the table with us' and told how he used to walk to the fridge and help himself to his favourite treat - Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

As she hosed him down with water, the singer reminisced that it was just like old days, when Bubbles used to have his own bathroom and regularly take showers.

Walk back in time: LaToya was in a nostalgic mood as she visited her brother's former pet and strolled around the grounds of the sanctuary where he lives

Things turned emotional for LaToya though as she shared a little one on one time with the chimp.

A teary Jackson told Bubbles: 'I miss you - I haven't seen you in ages.'
Michael Jackson adopted the ape from a Texas research facility in the early eighties.

Bubbles slept in a crib in Jackson's bedroom, shared the singer's toilet and ate sweets in the Neverland movie theatre.

For a time, Jackson took the chimp everywhere with him, even travelling to Japan with him and taking him along to afternoon tea with a Japanese mayor.

In happier times: Michael Jackson poses in a matching outfit with Bubbles

Unfortunately for Bubbles though his lavish lifestyle was brought to a grinding halt when he grew too large, and aggressive, for Jackson to handle.

In 2003, his pet was carted off to a California animal sanctuary where he became so depressed he reportedly attempted suicide.

When the sanctuary closed in 2004, Bubbles was taken to his current home, the Center for Great Apes, in Wauchula, Florida.

source: dailymail