April 27, 2007

LinkNews Digest [04/27/2007]

Kim Jong Il Ate My Mutant Rabbits

The offspring of the 12 giant rabbits were supposed to help to feed starving North Koreans. Now doubts about their fate have brought an abrupt halt to one of the more unlikely hunger-alleviating projects.

Karl Szmolinsky sold the rabbits to Pyongyang so that they could be used to set up a breeding programme to boost meat production in the Hermit Kingdom. However, amid concerns that they have been eaten by the country’s leaders, Mr Szmolinsky will not be sending any more.

The 68-year-old breeder had been due to travel to North Korea after Easter to provide advice on setting up a rabbit farm. A North Korean official rang him last week to say that the trip had been cancelled. Mr Szmolinsky said he suspected that his rabbits, which grow to the size of dogs and can weigh over 10kg (22lb), were eaten at a birthday banquet for Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, although he emphasised that he had no evidence of this.

"It’s an assumption, not an assertion," Mr Szmolinsky said. "But I don’t think the animals are alive anymore, I think they’ve been eaten."

Mr Szmolinsky had attracted worldwide media coverage in January with his deal to sell North Korea some of the spectacularly large "German grey giants" he breeds at his home in Eberswalde, an eastern town near Berlin.

His rabbits can yield up to 7kg (15lb) of meat each. It had been unclear, however, given their voracious appetite for carrots, potatoes and other top quality vegetables, how they could actually alleviate the food shortages in North Korea rather than actually adding to them. (LINK )

Stuffed Leopard Terrorizes Chinese City

A toy black leopard left lying in a footpath sparked panic in a Chinese city. The 3ft stuffed toy scared pedestrians and caused a traffic jam in Xiamen city.

A witness told Xiamen Daily: "Dogs were scared and passers-by were running for their lives. Some of them ran into traffic, causing a back-up." Eventually, police officers arrived with an armed anaesthetist from the local Haicang Zoo.

"After observing for a while, we saw the leopard was stationary, so one of the officers gingerly went ahead and touched it. Then we realised it's a toy," said a police spokesman.(LINK )

Customer Service? My Poodle Goes "Baaaaah!"

Thousands of people have been 'fleeced' into buying neatly coiffured lambs they thought were poodles. Entire flocks of lambs were shipped over from the UK and Australia to Japan by an internet company and marketed as the latest 'must have' accessory.

But the scam was only spotted after a leading Japanese actress said her 'poodle' didn't bark and refused to eat dog food.

'Sadly, we think there is more than one company operating in this way.' The sheep are believed to have been imported from overseas - Britain and Australia.' Poodles are famously used by the rich and glamourous on the continent but are extremely rare in Japan, with many people having little idea what they look like.

The company, which translates as Poodles as Pets, sold the 'poodles' for £630, about half the cost of a normal poodle but is now understood to have been shut down.(LINK )

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