Dateline: Ireland--Staff at the Mullingar Equestrian Centre in central Ireland were forced to postpone festivities after a wayward camel devoured 200 mince pies and downed several cans of Guinness intended for their Christmas party. Gus the camel, who was starring in the riding school’s Santa’s Magical Animal Kingdom show, tucked in to the holiday feast while staff members were getting changed for the party. “Gus found his way out of his pen and helped himself,” Robert Fagan, owner of the Equestrian Centre said. The 11-year-old camel, originally from Morocco, cracked open six cans of Ireland’s famous stout with his teeth after the door to his stall was left open. Gus appeared well after the evening’s feeding frenzy. “We were all looking forward to it,” said Fagan. “But you couldn’t blame him. He’s really a very gentle, docile sort of camel.”
Dateline: Turkey--In other camel-related news, a group of Turkish aviation technicians are in trouble for sacrificing a camel on the tarmac of Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport. The workers were apparently so happy to be rid of the last of a batch of troublesome airplanes that they butchered a camel on the runway. Turks traditionally sacrifice animals as an offering to God when their wishes come true. “We are happy to be rid of planes which frequently broke down,” the daily Cumhuriyet quoted chief technician Sukru Can as saying. Unfortunately, under pressure from the European Union, Turkey has recently introduced fines for those who slaughter animals outside special facilities. Turkish Airlines authorities launched an investigation and sacked the chief technician for approving the sacrifice.
Dateline: Germany--German animal rights activists have launched a campaign against plans to put up a giant Ferris wheel in Berlin, saying it would disturb the sex lives of rhinos in a nearby zoo. A group of investors has unveiled plans to erect a 575-foot wheel. The attraction will cost more than $200 million and is expected to be higher than the famed London Eye, currently the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. Animal rights activists are opposed to the project, however, fearing that the giant carnival ride will somehow distract the rhinos from their mating habits. “We’re worried that these endangered animals won’t breed anymore, which would hamper animal protection programs,” Berlin’s animal rights association said in a press release.
Dateline: Germany--The world’s first beer for blind people has been released in Germany. Dusseldorf’s Uerige beer, considered one of the world’s best “alt” beers by experts, is now releasing 11-ounce bottles with a braille label. Blind German pop singer Joana Zimmer welcomed the news. “For blind people every drink is actually a lucky dip. You often have no idea what’s about to go in your mouth. But with this bottle, you are clearly told what it is--and that’s fabulous.”
Dateline: Texas--In other seeing-impaired news, blind people may soon be able to fire high-powered weapons at wild animals if a new piece of legislation passes in Texas. A bill filed for the 2007 legislative session would permit legally blind hunters to use laser sights or lighted pointing instruments to aid in hunting. “This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that’s great,” said Republican Rep. Edmund Kuempel, the bill’s sponsor. Laser sights, spotlights, headlights and other lighted pointers are currently prohibited in Texas, but Kuempel believes the devices--used in conjunction with sighted guides--would be perfect for people who can’t actually see what their aiming at. “I’ve seen this on TV before, when they’re taking target practice,” Kuempel said. “When they aim the gun, the guide tells them, aim two inches higher or two inches lower and you’re on the target, and you’re off and running.”
Dateline: Iowa--A house owned by Drake University has sustained some $50,000 worth of damage in an impromptu bottle rocket war. According to the Des Moines Register, four young men have been charged with reckless use of fire, a serious misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The charges were filed against 22-year-old Bogan Radu Budea, 18-year-old Ryan Farnham, 18-year-old Sankech Prabhakar and 18-year-old Jonathan R. Kretman. The blaze began after the four found a box of fireworks left by a friend. The young men started a bottle rocket inside the house and then left for a party, not realizing they had started a couch in the house smoldering. Another resident of the house showed up later and discovered a fire burning downstairs. The fire department was able to get the blaze under control, but the house itself was rendered unfit for occupation. “They were playing around with fireworks like a lot of the rest of us have done at one time or another,” said Des Moines Police Detective Jack Kamerick. “They are all good kids. But if you’re going to have a bottle rocket war, it would be a lot better to do it outside. It would still be illegal, but at least you wouldn’t burn up a house.”