Cocker spaniel survives 120ft tumble from cliff with nothing more than a 'little limp'

By Daily Mail Reporter

Oscar tumbled 120ft down the Dorset cliff and escaped with a 'little limp'

When Oscar the cocker spaniel scampered over the edge of a 120ft sheer cliff, Laura Gardener was distraught.

Not least because she had only been walking the dog for a friend when she let it off the leash at a coastal beauty spot.

Luckily for all concerned, the five-year-old pet escaped from his death-defying leap with just ‘a little limp’ and was yesterday back home with his owners after being checked over by a vet.

Mrs Gardener had offered to take Oscar to Old Harry Rocks, near Studland, Dorset, along with her own dog, Dougie, and her three children, because his owners, Rupert and Emma Brown, had their hands full looking after a newborn baby.

The 41-year-old said: ‘Rupert and Emma haven’t been able to exercise Oscar as much as they would have liked recently due to their baby Theo.

‘I have taken care of Oscar before so I offered to take him with me to Studland. The coastal path was quite open and I thought it would be OK to let the dogs off their leads.

'As soon as I did they both went running off about 100 metres in the distance.’

She shouted at the dogs to stop, but while Dougie obeyed the command, Oscar carried on running and ‘flew over the edge’.

Mrs Gardener, who lives in Iwerne Minster, Dorset, with husband Andrew, an energy manager, added: ‘I peered over the top and saw Oscar.

‘He looked like he didn’t know what had hit him but he was alive

Oscar fell over the edge at the Old Harry Rocks in Dorset - and walker Laura Gardener was stunned when he got upl and continued to run around

‘There was then a brief moment of celebration before I thought, “How am I going to get him back up?”.’

She called coastguards after realising Oscar was stranded at the foot of the cliffs by the incoming tide.

But the dog was rescued soon after the fall on Thursday morning by a canoeist who had witnessed the incident.

She added: ‘I like to let my dog off the lead to give him a run but I’ll never do it again anywhere near a cliff.’

Mr Brown, 41, who runs a business selling dog products, said: ‘We were quite upset and worried at the time but Laura was brilliant and she did the right thing throughout.

‘These things happen, dogs will be dogs. Oscar is walking a bit gingerly today but he is fine.’

The businessman and his 31-year-old wife also live in Iwerne Minster with Theo and their other son, William, aged two.

Steve Williams, a watch manager at Portland coastguard, said: ‘Oscar is one lucky dog.

‘I can only assume he suffered a bump or two on the way down the cliff which cushioned his fall.

‘We always advise pet owners to keep their dogs on their leads near cliffs as the animals do get excited and can fall over the edge.’

source: dailymail

Who are you calling ugly? Gremlin bat nursed back to health after mum drops her in flight

By Daily Mail Reporter

Cruella might look scary, but she is a highly vulnerable baby long eared bat being cared for at a wildlife rescue service

One-week-old Cruella may look a bit scary but in reality she is highly vulnerable.

The baby brown long-eared bat in the care of Secret World Wildlife Rescue at East Huntspill near Highbridge in Somerset, was found by a member of the public in Minehead after it is believed her mother dropped her during flight.

Having been assessed by vets, Cruella will undergo rehabilitation at the rescue centre as one of more than 400 wildlife casualties to be cared for by the charity each year.

Debbie O'Keefe, of Secret World, said: 'The biggest challenge is getting her to self feed and keep muscle condition to sustain flight for long periods of time.'

Cruella is predicted to be flying within four weeks and could be released by the end of the summer.

Cruella's ears will move to the top of her head as she grows and learns to fly, with her release into the wild possible by the end of summer

Lookalike: Cruella bears more than a passing resemblance to a gremlin from the 1984 film of the same name

source: dailymail

The baby panda factory: Inside the extraordinary breeding centre where China is mass-producing infant pandas

By David Jones

Rare bear: Nigel Marven meets a 10-day old baby panda at Chengdu Panda Base in Sichuan province, China

Masked and gowned to avoid passing on an infection, wildlife presenter Nigel Marven gazes in wonder at the tiny and rather odd- looking creature nestling helplessly inside a blanketed incubator.

Just a few inches long, with a furless, pink body and tightly scrunched-up eyes, it could be a newborn rabbit, or some sort of rodent, perhaps.

In fact, this is a nine-day-old giant panda — still blind and unable to crawl — being nurtured in a remarkable Chinese panda nursery which is leading the fight to safeguard the future of the world’s most emblematic animal.

The project is considered so sensitive that only a handful of Westerners — all veterinary specialists — have been permitted inside the sound-proofed, softlylit nursery at the giant Panda Breeding And Research Centre in Chengdu, Western China.

But Marven was made an exception this week after he was appointed as Chengdu’s ‘Panda Ambassador’ — an honour previously awarded to just one man: China’s favourite actor, Jackie Chan.

And only the Daily Mail was there to capture a moment that the 49-year-old presenter described as ‘the most memorable of my career’.

The newborn panda has been named Jiao Qing, meaning Mother’s Celebration, and he is the first surviving cub of the new birthing season, which lasts until September.

The only other panda born this summer survived for just four days at Beijing Zoo.

Because pandas are so tiny at birth — weighing around 3oz — and have notoriously poor eyesight, it was crushed to death when its mother accidentally rolled on top of it.
At birth, Jiao Qing was equally minuscule. Indeed, until the week before he arrived, animal scientists were not even sure that his 15-year-old mother Jiao Zi was pregnant.

Yet, thanks to the sort of paediatric care once reserved for China’s privileged little emperors, he is coming along famously and his size has already doubled.

In six months’ time he will stop suckling and munch his first bamboo shoots. By this time next year, his luxuriant black-and-white coat will have grown and he will be recognisable as the cuddly — if slightly melancholy — bear that melts our hearts.

Though born in captivity, he may one day be released into the wild under an exciting and highly-sophisticated experiment designed to boost the panda population and save the species from extinction.

With an estimated 1,800 giant pandas still in their natural habitat — the bamboo-covered mountains of Western China — and fewer than 300 in zoos and preserves, they remain on the critically-endangered list. For long-standing cultural reasons, however (and because they can rent pandas to foreign zoos for up to £1million a year), the Communist authorities are determined to preserve their prized natural symbol.

Precious: The baby, Jiao Qing, is the first first surviving cub of the base's birthing season, which lasts until September

‘The panda is as much a part of China as The Great Wall,’ says Marven. ‘Losing them would be unthinkable — like Britain losing St Paul’s Cathedral.’

The Chinese government has now set up 50 giant panda research centres. With 97 resident pandas, the one at Chengdu — the so- called ‘panda capital of the world’ — is among the most important.

For a Briton to be made its second-ever ambassador is therefore quite extraordinary.

It is also a mark of how far China has progressed since the era of what was referred to as ‘panda diplomacy’ — when these rare creatures were jealously guarded, but occasionally gifted to political leaders such as Edward Heath and Richard Nixon.

Kung-fu film star Chan was awarded his title in a blaze of publicity last year, when he adopted two pandas and donated £100,000 towards research.

Marven’s elevation was an altogether more low-key affair. However, his daring encounters with dangerous predators have made him a celebrity in China and he was given the honour while filming a new five-part TV series about pandas.

It will be screened on Channel 5 this autumn and broadcast later to tens of millions of people worldwide.

The presenter is clearly taking his new position very seriously. ‘It will be my duty to go out and tell as many people as possible why the panda is so remarkable, because that’s the best way to get them interested in conserving it,’ he told me in Chengdu this week.

Yet becoming a panda ambassador has also brought him an unexpected and very handsome perk.

In a country where only the elite own their own homes, Marven has been granted the 99-year lease on a breathtakingly beautiful three-acre plot of land nestling in the mountains near the spa resort of Huashuiwan, two hours’ drive from the city.

I accompanied him when he was taken to see this extraordinary gift — which local officials estimate to be worth around £1million — and he was so thrilled that he promptly stripped off and dived beneath a gushing waterfall.

Hope: Staff take care of tiny Jiao Qing in his incubator as tourists look on

‘Isn’t life amazing?’ he grinned as he dried off. ‘Of all the wonderful things that have happened to me, there has been nothing like this. It’s so peaceful here. I’ll do an inventory of all the insects and birds. And I’ll even have wild pandas for neighbours.’

Marven plans to build a traditional Chinese cottage on his new plot and to visit regularly with his wife Gill and their daughter Eleonora, who will be two in October.

It will be something of a trek from their other two homes, one near Bristol and one in South Africa’s Western Cape. But to ease his journey, the local mayor has even promised to replace the steep, stony path leading to his plot with a tarmac road.

With land ownership banned in China and millions still living in poverty, all this largesse might seem excessive; but the people here revere their pandas — and those who seek to protect them — and Marven was given a hero’s welcome.

Before making his new series, his closest encounter with a giant panda had come as a boy when his father Roger took him to see Chi Chi, then the star attraction at London Zoo.

The loveable female was loaned to the zoo and inspired Sir Peter Scott’s logo for the World Wildlife Fund.

Recently, however, Marven went out with expert trackers in an effort to hunt them down in the bamboo thickets. Because they are so elusive — scurrying off at the mere sound of a snapped twig — it is a task that requires great patience and stealth, but after 12 frustrating days they crept within ten yards of a mother nursing her cub while leaning against a tree.

He believes this is another first — for no other TV presenter has been filmed with a wild panda. ‘It was an incredible moment,’ he says. ‘Afterwards we celebrated with a special meal and toasted our success with rice wine. I don’t drink, but I was drunk on euphoria.’

Much of his knowledge for the TV series was gleaned from the Chengdu ‘panda base’, where a team of experts is striving to make the sight of pandas padding about in the bamboo forests less of a rarity.

And at a time when a question mark about the future hangs over so many animals — from polar bears to whales — this is one conservation story that seems likely to have a happy ending.

For scientists know much more now than they did in the Sixties, when no one could fathom why Chi Chi refused to mate with Moscow Zoo’s An An and concluded that either their failure was a symptom of the Cold War or that pandas simply didn’t like sex.

Special bond: Marven meets a one-year-old female panda namedYali at Chengdu Panda Base

For many years, all kinds of bizarre methods were tried to induce copulation. Animals were shown videos of other pandas mating and even given Viagra.

Now scientists have discovered that pandas do have a strong libido — but only for three days of the year, when the females are on heat.

The rest of the time, males and females cannot abide one another and will fight viciously when put together. Armed with this knowledge, their hormones are being closely monitored so that they can be placed together at precisely the right time.

For those females who still find it difficult to conceive, IVF is also being used, and last summer the first test-tube panda was born at the Wolong research facility, four hours away from Chengdu.

But according to Li Mingxi, animal control manager at Chengdu, these are just some of the reasons why pandas are breeding more prolifically than before. ‘Otherwise, the most fundamental change is that we are allowing them to behave as they want, rather than as we humans want,’ he told me.

‘For example, although 99 per cent of their diet is bamboo, they eat many different types and these vary according to the seasons. ‘So instead of feeding them one kind which is easy to access, we now send teams of cutters to their habitat, 4,500ft up in the Sichuan mountains, to bring back the specific bamboo they need.

‘When you remember that a fully grown panda will eat up to 200lb of bamboo a day — as much as its own body weight — you realise this is a very expensive task involving many, many workers.’

Another important step has been the introduction of air conditioning in the breeding centre because — while pandas love cold weather — they did not do well in the humidity caused by previous efforts to cool their lairs by using huge chunks of ice.

And once a female does conceive, the team faces more challenges. A giant panda’s pregnancy can last up to 300 days, and because the foetus is so tiny (900 times smaller than the mother) it is difficult to detect, even with ultrasound.

Their tiny size is one reason why, a decade ago, more than half of all newborn captive pandas died at birth or soon after.

Popular: China is determined to protect the endangered panda, as only 1,800 giant pandas remain in their natural habitat

But today, thanks to advanced monitoring techniques, more than 80 per cent survive — and with the population now relatively stable the Chinese have moved on to the most critical phase of the fight to save the panda.

This week, four pregnant females were released into a 20,000 sq ft area of bamboo forest, the first step in the project to reintroduce them fully into the wild. The Chinese first tried to free a captive panda in 2003 — but the experiment failed.

Xiang Xiang, a seemingly robust young male, survived just four years before being found dead, having apparently been killed by other pandas. This time, though, the released group has been better prepared and will be watched more carefully.

In a bizarre twist, when these creatures need help they will be assisted by researchers disguised in blackand-white panda suits in an effort to desensitise them from humans.

Before approaching the pandas, staff will also be sprayed with the scent of wild animals they would naturally come across and learn to imitate the sounds they make.

If this elaborate plan succeeds, it is hoped the four pregnant pandas’ cubs will flourish and have families of their own.

Meanwhile, more young captive pandas — perhaps including Jiao Qing — will be transferred from Chengdu to an outlying preserve to be prepared for release.

In this way, it is hoped that the wild population can be raised to a sustainable level for the first time in recent history.

When the day comes that they are removed from the endangered list, no one will be more delighted than Britain’s proud new Panda Ambassador.

During his long career he has encountered countless thrilling animals.

But, as I saw this week, nothing has moved him quite as profoundly as nuzzling up close to a vulnerable newborn panda.

Panda Week With Nigel Marven will be screened on Channel 5 this autumn

source: dailymail

The Saturdays Mollie King accessorises her super short skirt with her super cute poodle

By Georgina Littlejohn

Canine offender: Mollie King arrives at Heart FM this morning clutching her poodle Alfie who then messed on the floor of the breakfast show studio

As one fifth of good-looking girl group The Saturdays, Mollie King needs to do something extra to stand out from her bandmates.

But arriving at the Heart FM Studios in London today, the 23-year-old singer made sure she was the centre of attention thanks to her ultimate accessory.

While her bandmates simply carried their handbags, the blonde accessorised her mini-skirt and T-shirt with her adorable poodle Alfie.

However, it wasn't all fun and games - King was forced to clean up after her dog when he decided to relieve himself in the middle of a radio station studio this morning.

But Mollie, 23, took it all in her stride as she set about cleaning it up from the Heart FM breakfast show studio floor.

She and her bandmates - Una Healy, 28, Frankie Sandford, 21, Vanessa White, 20, and Rochelle Wiseman, 21 - were guests on the Breakfast Show, hosted by Jamie Theakston and Harriet Scott.

They were appearing on the show to promote their eight-track mini-album Headlines, which is released on August 16.

Bark for us, Alfie: Frankie holds the fed-up looking pooch up to the microphone

As the girls spoke to Jamie and Harriet live on air, Alfie was passed around between them and was even held up to the microphone in the hope he might bark a hello to the listeners.

But the excitement clearly became all too much for the poor little guy who then took it upon himself to go to the toilet in the middle of the studio floor as the girls were being interviewed.

Jamie then announced live on air that 'one of the Saturdays' four-legged friend has just soiled the carpet'.

A spokesman for Heart FM said: 'It was quite funny.

'Jamie and Harriet were shocked at first but soon found it funny and started laughing.'

Early start: Rochelle Wiseman and Una Healy walk across Leicester Square in London to the Heart FM studios

And while some pop stars would leave it to their assistants or the cleaners to clear away the mess, Mollie proved she was no diva and set about getting rid of it herself.

The spokesman added: 'Mollie was great about it and asked for some tissue. Then she ended up cleaning it up herself.'

Although it can't have been a very dignified position for her, considering she was wearing a short skirt at the time.

Caffeine fix: Coffee in hand, Frankie Sandford strolls next to bandmate Vanessa White as they head into the radio station to meet the rest of the girls

source: dailymail

Kylie Minogue goes wild Down Under as she feeds a baby tiger

By Mail Online Reporter

Furry friend: Kylie Minogue looks nervous after she offers the bottle of milk to the tiger cub at Melbourne Zoo

Only a week ago, Kylie Minogue admitted her newborn nephew Ethan had made her broody.

But perhaps the singer would prefer a baby tiger instead of a little human after she was spotted cooing over one at Melbourne Zoo yesterday.

The singer, 42, and her model boyfriend Andres Velencoso, 32, joined relatives for a day trip, where they were given the chance to feed the baby tiger some milk

Check out those stripes: The Australian singer looked mesmerised by the big cats

As Melbourne is currently in the middle of winter, the couple wrapped up in coats and scarves for the chilly afternoon.

Missing out on the trip was new mother Dannii, who was back at her new £1million home with her four-week-old son and partner Kris Smith.

On Australian TV last week, Minogue admitted seeing baby Ethan had made her feel broody.

She said: 'Meeting baby Ethan was so beautiful. I gazed adoringly at him he's a little marvel. I was just a little clucky.

Feeding time: Andres Velencoso keeps a firm grip as the cub suckles on the bottle

'Dannii told me to have a nudie cuddle with Ethan and to take him to the bathroom where Kris was standing with just a towel around him. So we chatted and I'm thinking, That's a lot of water for a little baby. Jet-lagged no sense!
'Then I realised, "Oh, you're getting in the bath as well!" OK.'

The former Neighbours star missed out on Ethan's birth because she was promoting her new album Aphrodite, which went to number one in the UK album charts.

But she celebrated the new addition to the Minogue family, writing on her Twitter page: 'Congratulations to my little sister, Dannii and Kris on their beautiful baby boy, Ethan. He is gorgeous.'

Day trip: Minogue arrived in Australia over a week ago to visit her family

Dannii and Kylie are also aunts to their cameraman brother Brendan's sons Charles and James.

Dannii gave birth to little Ethan on July 5 at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne.

The singer was originally hoping to have a home birth, but was advised to be transferred to hospital after having complications.

Dannii's new arrival comes just a few weeks after she and her boyfriend moved into a £1million home in a plush Melbourne suburb - a few miles away from her parents Ron and Carol Minogue.

source: dailymail

His master's mimic: Dogs 'copy their owner's hand and mouth movements'

By Sophie Borland and David Derbyshire

Face off: Kelsey Grammar with Eddie, his canine co-star on TV comedy Frasier. Pet dogs copy the actions of their owners, scientists have discovered

It has often been observed that dogs resemble their owners.

But it seems our four-legged friends go a step further and even copy humans too.

They automatically imitate hand movements with their paws and mouth movements with their muzzles, research has revealed.

Humans are known to engage in ‘automatic imitation’, when another person’s body moving in a particular way elicits the same physical reaction in an observer.

And now canines have been shown to do the same.

Dogs’ imitative abilities are shaped by the way their owners interact with them as they grow up, the researchers suggest.

In the study, ten dogs were trained to open a sliding door using their heads and also with their paws for a food reward.

Five of them – three border collies, an Australian shepherd and a mongrel – were asked to open the door in the same way as their owner (head or hand/paw).

The remaining five dogs – four border collies and a mongrel – were required to use their paw after seeing human head use and their head their owner used a hand.

They took significantly longer to respond correctly to the task than those simply imitating.

Researcher Dr Friederike Range, a cognitive biologist at the University of Vienna, said: ‘The dogs brought with them to the experiment a tendency automatically to imitate hand use and/or paw use; to imitate these actions even when it was costly to do so, when imitation interfered with the efficient performance of an ongoing task.’

His colleagues told the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: ‘The results provide the first evidence of automatic imitation and of automatic counter-imitation in dogs.

‘Dogs are special animals, both in terms of their evolutionary history of domestication and the range and intensity of their developmental training by humans.

‘Both of these factors may enhance the extent to which dogs attend to human activity.

‘But the experiment suggests it is the latter training in the course of development which plays the more powerful and specific role in shaping their imitative behaviour.’

Two years ago, researchers found dogs yawn when they see a human doing so, suggesting they are capable of empathising with people.

Another study found they develop a bark similar to the sound of an owner’s regional accent. So canines in Liverpool communicate in a high pitch, for example.

source: dailymail

Are they barking? Council blows £15,000 on adventure playground for dogs

By Andrew Levy

Fitness for owner and pet: Jill Oxborrow, 50, with her two-year-old Black Labrador Ripley at the dog agility area in Bishop's Stortford

Dogs usually have to make do with fetching a stick or walkies to keep off the pooch pounds.

But pets at this £15,000 play park – the first of its kind in Britain – enjoy Crufts-style obstacles to keep in shape. There is everything from ramps and tunnels to hurdles, poles and paw-shaped hoops to negotiate.

The 30ft square area at Southern Country Park in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, opened this week – coinciding with a People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals report warning that half of UK dogs will be obese within five years.

But critics complain the park is a waste of money. Emma Boon, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘The local council must have gone barking mad to spend thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash on this canine attraction.

'Of course dog owners should exercise their pets as part of looking after them but a run around the park should be sufficient.

Ripley takes a breather as Mrs Oxborrow tells him to sit (above) before he scrampers up and over one of the obstacles (below)

‘It is not the job of the council to provide facilities for owners to play with their dogs and it certainly isn’t a priority at a time when money is tight and the council should be making spending cuts.’

Jogger Rachel Bennett, 34, who lives in the area, said: ‘It seems a bit barmy. What’s wrong with throwing a ball or a stick? Those don’t need maintenance and won’t be vandalised.’

Diana Attwood, 41, from nearby Stansted Mountfitchet, Hertfordshire, who takes her weimaraner, Cindy, to agility competitions, said: ‘It’s awful to think local residents are being bullied and robbed for their council tax for it to be wasted in such a stupid way.’

Tory-run East Herts District Council paid £7,000 for the equipment. Installation costs and officers’ time more than doubled this.

Councillor Linda Haysey said: ‘The area has been designed to help dogs and their owners keep fit and active. It’s a wonderful way for dog owners to socialise.’

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: ‘Recent reports about pet obesity are testament to the fact that, sadly, dogs don’t always get the exercise that they need.’

source: dailymail

Flying giants: Incredibly rare display as manta rays leap 9ft out of water into the air

By Mail Foreign Service

Water leap! A manta ray soars out of the sea a staggering three metres in the air

They could be mistaken for strange-looking birds but these creatures are actually manta rays, leaping a staggering nine feet in the air.

The plucky animals, which measure just over three feet wide, demonstrate their acrobatic skills by bursting out of the water.

Once airborne they to flap their impressive fins in what looks like an attempt to fly.

Somersault: Two flying manta rays put on a display before diving back into the water

And, if they're feeling particularly playful, some even manage a somersault before plummeting back into the water with an impressive splash.

Photographers Roland and Julia Seitre captured the spectacle off the coast of Costa Rica, Central America.

The French couple had sailed six miles out to sea in the hope of catching sight of some whales but were also treated to this extraordinary rare acrobatic display.

Mr Seitre said: 'The males jumped clear out of the water, up to three metres [9ft] high.

Incredibly rare: Roland and Julia Seitre were treated to an extraordinary acrobatic display

'They flapped their wings during the few seconds of flight, before hitting the surface with a loud banging noise.

'Some think it is a way to attract female attention as we saw pairs close by.
'Numerous males take off and land one after another.

'The bangs are so loud it's like you're being close to a hunting party with guns.
'Occasionally one seems to have even more fun by doing a somersault.

'This kind of behaviour is extremely unpredictable and incredibly rare to witness.
'We were so lucky, it was a complete coincidence that we were there in the first place.'

He added: 'These manta rays are beautiful.

'Their large wing-shaped bodies and slow motion make them excellent sea gliders.
'They not only impress with their size but also with their very elegant flight into the blue oceans.'

The manta ray is the largest of the all the rays.

They can grow up to 25ft across and weigh around 5,100lb.

Graceful: Looking as though it's flapping its 'wings' the amazing animal leaps through the air

The species are found in tropical waters and feed mostly on plankton, which is filtered into their bodies through their gills as swim.

Perfectly stream-lined for gliding through the water, the manta ray can reach speeds of up to 7mph.

They are often spotted swimming with divers and will sometimes surface alongside boats.

source: dailymail

Puppy saved from death by thugs using it as a football in Afghanistan is flown to UK for a new life

By Daily Mail Reporter

Cpl Sarah Marriott with six-month-old pup Reorg who she saved from certain death in Afghanistan

Whimpering and just days old, he was being kicked like a football by a crowd of children on a street in Afghanistan.

When Corporal Sarah Marriott rescued the tiny puppy, he was barely the size of her hand.

The 30-year-old Army medic, who was on foot patrol with the 2nd Yorkshire Regiment in Helmand Province, was told that the youngsters had been asked to drown the little dog because his owners did not want him - so she carried him back to her base

And after six months on a restorative diet of porridge, Spam and affection, he has been brought to the UK to live with her family.

Corporal Marriott said: 'I was on routine patrol near our forward base when we came across some children throwing and kicking a puppy. As I got closer I could hear it whimpering.

'I don't think anyone could have just stood there and watched.'

Cute: Poorly Reorg was helped back to health on an army diet of porridge and spam

'I went straight over and we had a translator with us who spoke to the Afghan children about the dog.

'The children said, 'We have just been sent to drown it in the river'.

Cpl Marriott later found out that their parents' dog had a litter of unwanted pups.

'In Afghanistan dogs are used as working dogs, not pets, either as guard dogs or for fighting,' she said. 'If there are too many in the litter the ones that aren't needed are killed.'

She spoke to her squad commander and they decided to take the little dog back to the safe haven of their base.

Patrol: British forces in Helmand where Reorg was found by Cpl Marriott

'It was only about the size of my hand at that time and I just carried it back to the base nearby,' said Cpl Marriott.

'I don't think anyone could have just stood there and watched. I had to do something.'

Back at base the puppy was given the name Reorg - an army abbreviation for reorganisation, commonly used to describe a debriefing session after an operation.

Reorg was poorly at first, unable to walk for the first few days. Yet slowly but surely the badly bruised and malnourished bundle of fluff was nursed back to health - on a diet of army porridge and spam.

'Reorg became a very happy and bubbly character,' said Cpl Marriott. 'Whenever I got up he would follow me around.'

The dog soon became a much-loved pet on the base, but Cpl Marriott feared what would happen to him once her tour finished and her unit returned to the UK.

'I knew that once we were gone he wouldn't last five minutes. He would have been killed,' she said. 'To leave Reorg there after I had cared for him for so long would have been heartbreaking.'

The caring medic went on the internet and enlisted the help of a charity called Nowzad Dogs which specialises in rescuing mistreated dogs from abroad.

They spent £3,500 flying Reorg to Heathrow, and he has now been put in quarantine near Cpl Marriott's home in Devon - but not before an emotional reunion with the woman who saved his life.

She beamed: 'He definitely knew who I was. He seemed very happy to see me.
'My family has always had dogs and I think they are proud of me for saving Reorg. Everyone said it couldn't be done.'

Because Cpl Marriott is likely to be sent back to Afghanistan again soon, Reorg will live with one of her dog-loving relatives once he is out of quarantine.

A spokesman for the Nowzad Dogs charity revealed Reorg had been flown into Heathrow in the cargo hold of a passenger aircraft - at a cost of £3,500.

Cpl Marriott is so grateful she is now leading a fundraising drive to cover the cost of his rescue.

To make a donation go to

source :dailymail

Mouse-trapped! The greedy rodent that bit off more than it could chew

By Daily Mail Reporter

Trapped: Once inside the feeder, the mouse is known to eat so much it cannot squeeze back out

This sneaky mouse has shown an amazing talent for sneaking into a backyard bird feeder to gorge on nuts and oats.

The brazen rodent has made several raids on the hanging feeder in the backyard of keen gardener Noel Blundell's Merseyside home.

Mr Blundell, 55, has dubbed the mouse 'Supermouse' for its antics scurrying up the tree from which the feeder hangs, before running along the branch and down onto the device, sneaking in when the seed drops below the feeder hole.

On more than one occasion, the three-inch-long field mouse has eaten so much while inside that he became to fat to escape, and Mr Blundell had to free him.

The feeder was designed to be squirrel-proof. Mr Blundell's hometown of Formby is famous as one of the only places in Britain to still have red squirrels.

Mr Blundell said: 'He is incredible little creature. I'm sure he thinks he's a squirrel.

'I thought I was hallucinating the first time I saw him scurry up the tree trunk and then scamper out on the branch and swing down to get at the bird feeder.

'A couple of times he has gone right inside the feeder, when the level of seed inside has been lower than the feeder hole. Once inside he has gorged himself so much on the bird seeds and got so fat that he could not squeeze back out through the hole.

'I've had to free it a couple of times now, but it keeps coming back. He's even started bringing a friend with him. We call him Supermouse and he's certainly very brazen because he does not seem at all afraid of humans or the birds who come to the feeder.'

The feeder is manufactured by Nature's Feast, of Driffield, East Yorkshire, and is advertised as 'squirrel resistant'.

Nature's Feast sales executive Lauren Walker said: 'In 20 years we've never heard of a mouse that has managed to get to one of our bird feeders in this way. It's amazing that the owner of the feeder has to free the mouse when he gets too fat to escape back through the hole.

'But the mouse must be very agile in order to be able to get to the feeder when it is hanging from a tree branch. We'd be interested to see him in action.'

source: dailymail

Lucky escape for grizzly bear who comes face-to-face with Sarah Palin... she's only got a fishing rod in her hand!

By Mail Foreign Service

Chance meeting: The bear stares at Sarah Palin, in red jacket, after coming to the water edge to investigate

Considering she’s an avid hunter, it’s unclear who would have been more scared when Sarah Palin came face-to-face with a wild bear.

The former Alaska governor was on a fishing trip with her husband Todd and nine-year-old daughter Piper when the ‘Momma’ and her two cubs strolled along the edge of the water.

Mrs Palin looks bewildered after the encounter at Wolverine Creek in Alaska

Bear-faced cheek: The 'Momma' and her cubs wander off without incident

Mrs Palin, 46, and her family were in a boat with some friends near the shore in Wolverine Creek, Alaska, when the animals walked out of the forest to investigate.

The female bear stopped on a rock, turned and stared at the former vice-presidential candidate and then walked away without incident.

Perhaps it sensed that the lifelong National Rifle Association member might be looking for another grizzly bearskin rug to hang on her wall...

source: dailymail

'Having a whale of a time': Giant mammals take a diver by the hands for an amazing tour under Arctic ice

By Mail Foreign Service

Cold work: 'Buddy teams' dig out huge chunks of ice using hand-powered drilled to create dive holes in the White Sea, Russia

These amazing photographs show incredible wild Beluga whales who help human visitors to swim under thick Arctic sea ice.

The whales have a delicate touch and these two were spotted taking the hands of one diver and coasting along with him.

Photographer Andrey Nekasov, 38, from Odessa, Ukraine, visited the White Sea - off the Barents sea on the north-west coast of Russia - which is popular for spotting pods of the all-white swimming mammals.

Up close: A diver swims with two white beluga whales under the ice in the White Sea, Russia

Some of the whales in the area were formerly captive but reintroduced to the wild after being rehabilitated.

Curious by nature, the whales greet dive teams as they cut dive holes into the thick Arctic ice by popping their heads out.

Once underwater, divers often get to play games with the whales as they explore and seemingly show off to their guests.

'The White Sea is a whale sanctuary and belugas have been released here from zoos and marine parks,' Mr Nekasov said.

'They are breeding well and there are many babies.'

Belugas have 40 small conical teeth which they use to grasp fish.

The photographer added: 'With this diver they were gripping his hand very gently and pulling him along. It was a lot of fun.

Ice to meet you: The whales swim to the survive to greet the divers

Underwater love: The two beluga whales swim with a diver near the opening of the dive hole

'The whales are really interested in what's going on around them and they use their mouths a lot to feel things.'

Andrey and the team travelled to the dive area on snow mobile.

Organisers from the Arctic Circle Dive Centre cut holes in the ice using hand-powered drills call borers.

After removing the huge slabs of thick ice, divers are submerged on a rope and swim at depths of around five metres below the surface.

Andrey added: 'Diving with the belugas is really popular because they are so friendly. When we are preparing to dive they pop their heads out and watch everyone getting ready.

'It's like they are beckoning you in to come and play.'

source: dailymail

Pigs have feelings, too (and they prefer a bit of luxury)

By Daily Mail Reporter

Happy as a pig in mud: Pigs kept in pleasant surroundings are likely to be more 'positive' than those who aren't

Pigs can feel optimistic or pessimistic, depending on how they are treated, a study says.

Animals kept in ‘luxury’ are more likely to respond positively to a new experience than those in less stimulating pens.

Scientists hope the research, which shows pigs are capable of complex emotions, will have an impact on animal welfare.

The Newcastle University team, led by Dr Catherine Douglas, devised a technique to ‘ask’ pigs if they were feeling good or bad about life as a result of the way in which they lived.

In an experiment reminiscent of Pavlov’s dogs, pigs were taught to associate a note on a glockenspiel with a treat – an apple – and a dog training ‘clicker’ with something mildly unpleasant – in this case, a rustling plastic bag.

Half of the pigs were then placed in an enriched environment –more space, straw and toys – while the others were put in a smaller, boring pen.

The team then played an ambiguous noise – a squeak – and studied how the pigs responded.

Dr Douglas said: ‘The pigs in the enriched environment were optimistic about this new noise and approached, expecting a treat.

‘The pigs in the boring environment were pessimistic and, fearing it might be the bag, did not approach for a treat.

‘It’s a response we see all the time in humans where how we are feeling affects our judgment.

‘For example, if you’re having a bad day and you’re presented with an ambiguous cue such as your boss calling you into their office, the first thing that goes through your head is “what have I done wrong?”.

‘We can use this technique to finally answer important questions about animal welfare in relation to farm environments.’

Last year Dr Douglas published research that showed cows which were given a name and treated as individuals produced more milk than unnamed cattle.

source: dailymail

Iranian president Ahmadinejad denounces superstitious West over Paul the Octopus

By Allan Hall

In retirement: Paul has stopped predicting football results after correctly guessing the outcome of Germany's seven World Cup matches

Germans want to eat him, Spaniards want to beatify him and bookmakers want to hire him.

But Paul the Octopus is a symbol of all that is wrong with the Western world, according to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Paul became a global celebrity when he correctly predicted the result of all seven German World Cup matches and Spain’s victory over Holland in the final.

He did so by choosing one of two boxes labelled with a team’s national flag in his tank, each of which contained a mussel.

The octopus, which lives at an aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, was mentioned by Ahmadinejad several times during a speech in Tehran at the weekend.

He said Paul spread ‘Western propaganda and superstition’.

‘Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection, basing themselves in the love of all sacred values,’ he added.

Paul represents decadence and decay among Iran’s enemies, the president said.

source: dailymail

Welcome to the world! Heart-warming pictures show giant panda tenderly washing newborn cub

By Mail Foreign Service

Come to mum! Ju Xiao gingerly picks the cub up in her mouth and carries it to safety

These heart-warming pictures show a giant panda nurturing her newborn cub at a reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The eight-year-old panda tenderly licks the cub clean and carries it to safety in her mouth.

First-time mother Ju Xiao gave birth to twins at the Bifengxia base in Ya'an, but only nursed the first cub, according to a Malaysian news agency.

Protective: The giant panda gave birth to twins, but only nurtured the first cub, of which she immediately became fiercely protective, not letting people near it

Pandas rarely give birth to twins and mothers often only take the first cub as their own.

When the second cub was ignored, it was immediately sent to a panda nursery, said Tang Chunxiang, deputy chief of the giant panda protection and research centre in Wolong, which oversees the Ya'an reserve.

The second cub, which was male, weighed a meagre 135 grammes.

The gender of the first cub was not immediately known as Ju Xiao's motherly instincts immediately kicked in and she stopped people from approaching it, said Tang.

Giant pandas are among the world's most endangered species. Statistics from the State Forestry Administration show some 1,590 pandas live in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, and more than 210 live in captivity.

source: dailymail

Stop your squawking! Kung fu sparrow has enough of his rowdy friend

By Daily Mail Reporter

Silenced: The male sparrow clamps his female friend's beak shut with his left claw

This incredible picture shows how a lovers tiff between two sparrows ended abruptly when the male bird rudely took matters into his own claws and clamped his female friend's beak shut.

Bird watcher Urs Schmidli spent hours crouched in his garden trying to capture the perfect picture, but could not believe how the male bird managed to stop the squawking of his flighty friend.

Postman Schmidli, 55, from Switzerland said he studied the sparrows in his garden for a month before he began taking pictures.

'Sparrows mainly have little squabbles over food.

'But in this one shot it really looked like the darker male had just had enough of a nearby female's cheeping and decided to try and quieten the din down.'

Tiff: Two other sparrows squabble over food in Urs Schmidli's garden in Switzerland

Other magic moments of sparrows frozen in time by Mr Schmidli are piggy-backs and perfectly synchronised threat-displays between birds using their wings to see each other off.

In other pictures the full stunning patterns in the birds' wings are shown off - captured in all their beauty by perfect pictures.

Mr Urs said he has only been trying photography for one year: 'I saw some great encounters between the birds. I had a feeling that there were some things going on that were too fast for the human eye, so I decided to take a closer look with a camera.

'I'm really glad I did as it has let me look at what is normally hidden in the bird's speed.'

Incoming: A sparrow hovers overhead during a tiff with fellow feathered friend

Confrontation: The sparrows put on a dazzling show as they square up and spread their wings

source: dailymail

Snakes alive! Housewife finds a 5ft reptile in her washing machine

By Mail Online Reporter

Slippery customer: The snake was curled up on top of Wendy Foley's washing when she opened the machine

You've heard of Snakes On A Plane - but snakes in a washing machine?

The biggest fright that most of us ever get from our laundry is when we discover a red sock in the white wash. Mum of two Wendy Foley got the shock of a lifetime when she encountered a five foot long SNAKE as she was unloading her washer.

Wendy made frantic calls to both the police and RSPCA - but was told she would have to wait until someone could come round to remove the uninvited guest from her smalls.

Wendy, 51, discovered the reptile curled up on wet washing inside her machine at her home in Exwick, Exeter, Devon.

She said: 'The washing had been through a full cycle and was ended, so I was going to take it out and out more washing in.'

'I opened the glass door at the front and I saw something. I took it be part of a pair of jeans and then I wondered if it was a toy snake that children use.'

'But then it poked its tongue out at me. It was horrible and quite big. It was just lying there on the washing.'

'I don't know if it had been through the complete cycle or not. I screamed and screamed - I was terrified.'

Mrs Foley, who has been using crutches after recent knee surgery, used one of her crutches to slam the door shut.

Scales of justice: RSPCA officer Marijae Zwager captured the 5ft snake the following morning

Wendy, who has two sons aged 18 and 21, said she rushed out of the house and stopped a man in the street who came into look. He thought that thought the snake could be a boa constrictor.

Wendy said: 'I called the police but as soon as I said what had happened they hung up, they thought it was a hoax. I called back and begged them to listen, that it wasn't a hoax, and they said they would get the RSPCA round.'

'I called the RSPCA and they said they would someone around but it wouldn't be until the next day. The boys and I waited outside the house for a while because we were so scared. Then they went to bed and I just sat on my bed all night absolutely petrified.'

'I kept thinking that it would get out and also that there could be more than one in the house. I hate snakes. They scare me and I have absolutely no idea where this one came from.'

RSPCA spokeswoman Jo Barr said the snake was thought to be a corn snake which is not poisonous.

She said Wendy called them at around midnight and that the snake had been there for some time.

She said: 'The caller said the snake was in good health, not injured and was confined, so it was not sick or in danger and an officer was sent out first thing in the morning.'

The RSPCA has now collected the snake.

Cherry Keehner, of the Tiny Boas reptile shop in Exeter, said: 'Corn snakes can grow to a metre and half in length, they are not poisonous but they can give you a nip if they are scared.'

Corn snakes typically retail for around £30.

Exeter has had more than its fair share of stray snake stories. Last year a customer left an eight foot boa constrictor, worth around £250, at the Tiny Boas store for safe keeping and never returned to reclaim it.

source: dailymail