Swiss customs seize large

ivory haul in transit to China

GENEVA (AFP): A large haul of ivory, worth more than $400,000 on the black market, was seized at Zurich airport last month on its way from Tanzania to China, Swiss authorities said Tuesday. The 262 kilos (577 pounds) of ivory had been chopped up and stashed in eight suitcases, along with around a kilo of lion teeth and claws, Swiss customs authorities said in a statement. The suitcases, registered to three Chinese citizens, were intercepted at Zurich airport on July 6 during a routine control of tourists arriving from Dar es Salaam, it said. The stash of ivory was estimated to be worth around 400,000 Swiss francs ($413,500, 377,000 euros) on the black market, the statement said.

“In light of the offences committed by the three men against customs law and species conservation efforts, they can expect to receive steep fines,” it said.

Young fathers face raised

health risks in middle age

NEW YORK (Reuters): First-time dads in their early 20s may have the energy and agility to keep up with their young children, but a new study shows early fatherhood can pose perils later in life. Research by Finnish researchers showed that becoming a father before the age of 25 is linked to a higher chance of dying in middle age. “Men who have a child before the age of 22 have a very clear higher midlife mortality than men who have children later, at an average age of 25 to 26,” said Dr. Elina Einio of the University of Helsinki. Although the study did not look into the possible causes of the higher risk of death for young fathers.

Einio suggests that unplanned pregnancy, early marriage and the psychological and economic stress of fatherhood could play a part.

Lame Massachusetts chicken to

get 3-D printer prosthetic leg

BOSTON (Reuters): One Massachusetts chicken is about to get a costly leg up on life - a $2,500 prosthetic limb made on a 3-D printer. The chicken, named Cicely, is headed into surgery on Wednesday for the start of a first-of-its-kind procedure to fit her with an artificial limb, her owner, Andrea Martin of Black Thistle Farm, said on Monday. Cicely, 3 months old, was born with a torn tendon in her right leg that limits her mobility. When Martin took her to Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine to be examined last week she was given two choices - a prosthetic or euthanasia. “It was a no-brainer,” Martin said in a phone interview.

“She needs to be able to live a normal life.”

Martin’s farm, located in Clinton, about 45 miles (72 km) west of Boston, specializes in chicken rehabilitation and this isn’t the first time she has splurged on surgery. One of her hens had a hysterectomy last year that cost $3,000. “Anytime you do surgery on a bird, it’s a risk,” she said. “But I am optimistic. I think this will make her very happy. It’s worth it.”

When Cicely goes into surgery Wednesday, Dr. Emi Knafo will amputate her right leg. She will then run a CT-scan on Cicely’s left leg, to be used for a 3-D printed prosthetic. The chicken will be sent home to rest for two weeks, before returning to Tufts for her fitting. Similar surgeries have been performed on other creatures, but Knafo said she believed it was the first time it has been attempted on a chicken. Martin said she hopes to write a children’s book about the experience, once Cicely is healed. “She needs to tell her story,” Martin said.

Dozens of crocodile heads

dumped in Australian town

SYDNEY (AFP): Up to 70 rotting crocodile heads have been found in an old freezer dumped at a remote Australian town, police said Tuesday, with the culprits facing large fines and jail time if convicted of the killings. Several teenagers made the grisly find behind a row of shops at Humpty Doo, 40 kilometres (25 miles) outside Darwin on Sunday and contacted authorities. Police said at least 50 saltwater crocodile heads, and as many as 70, were stuffed inside. “(We saw) a deep freezer in a sad state of affairs,” senior wildlife ranger Tommy Nichols, who specialises in crocodile management, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “There was quite a bad smell and maggots around everywhere.”

No one has been arrested but anyone convicted of killing protected wildlife faces a fine of up to Aus$76,500 (US$55,000) or five years in jail.

It was not clear why the heads had been severed but crocodile skins are highly prized and there is a thriving market. Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven metres (23 feet) long and weigh more than a tonne, have become increasingly common in Australia’s Northern Territory since they were declared a protected species in 1971. Each year more than 500 are culled to protect the public and livestock, with the animals killing an average of two people a year. Keeping them as pets is legal in the Northern Territory if they are under 60 centimetres.