QUIRKY WORLD...Bon appetit: Roadkill turned into plant food


The Virginia Department of Transportation is working to turn highway carcasses into plant food.

The state agency is testing the practice of turning roadkill into compost at four sites across the state, using a special system that accelerates decomposition and suppresses odours.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that the system costs $140,000 (€118,000) and can break down animals in as little as six weeks in concrete bins. The compost is then used to control erosion and help establish grass after construction.

Officials say roadkill collected by the agency is traditionally buried or driven to landfills at a cost of $4m a year for disposal.

Several other states already have widespread programmes to compost roadkill.


Mekong the tapir


A Malayan tapir born on New Year’s Eve has been settling into life at a zoo.

The male calf was born to mother Sayang and first-time father Mogli on the evening of December 31, the last birth of the year at Edinburgh Zoo.

He has been named Mekong, after the delta river which flows through where the animals are found in the wild, and he is said to be “lively and very distinctive”. The young animal is on show to visitors at the zoo’s Malayan tapir enclosure.


Social network rescue


A 911 dispatcher in training used Facebook to locate a California hiker critically injured after falling 150ft down a cliff.

Ryan Pritchard was hiking with his son in the remote Blue Ridge Loop Trail near Lake Berryessa when he slipped and fell. His 11-year-old called 911 but the call got cut off before he could tell dispatchers where his father was.

Dispatchers were hitting a dead-end trying to make contact when trainee Breanna Martinez decided to do a search for Pritchard on Facebook. She said the very first post on Pritchard’s page was a picture of his two sons standing in front of Lake Berryessa and the comment “Hiking the Blue Ridge Trail today”. That post helped bring rescue crews to the area in time to get Pritchard out before sunset.


No fries with that


Fast-food lovers are mourning the disappearance of McDonald’s golden staple: The french fry.

A recent shortage at the US chain comes as socialist Venezuela grapples with shortfalls of basic goods ranging from medicines to flour due to strict currency controls that stymie imports.

McDonald’s restaurants are coping by replacing the spuds with salad or local fare such as fried yuca or “arepa” corn pancakes — but Golden Arches fans are none too happy about the new meal.

“Hamburgers don’t go with arepas and this salad I accepted doesn’t taste of anything,” moaned student Indira Silva, 27.

“I’m not coming back until the fries do.”

Two cashiers at separate restaurants said fries had been missing for two weeks and that business had dropped as a result. One said french fry imports had ground to a halt for lack of hard currency. “There is currently a temporary issue with distribution, which we are trying to resolve,” said Sonia Ruseler, senior director for corporate communications at Arcos Dorados.

A protracted labour dispute at US West Coast ports forced McDonald’s to ration fries in Japan last year.


Exhibit turns to Turner


Original painting materials once owned by JMW Turner form part of a new exhibition inspired by Mike Leigh’s recent film on the master British landscape artist. Brushes, a folding travelling palette, and a pocket paint-book caked with watercolour are among mementoes and objects going on display.

Major loans of Turner’s paintings in oil and watercolour, from collections including the Tate and the V&A, will also be seen at the National Trust’s Petworth House in West Sussex.


Elk rescue


Responders have rescued two elk that fell through the ice of a pond near a Colorado resort town, but a third elk didn’t survive.

A homeowner discovered the animals in the pond near Aspen. Firefighters worked with wildlife officers to cut a channel in the ice leading the shore and pull them out.

Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Alex Burchetta says the elk were in the frigid water for at least an hour and a half, and the two survivors were very tired by the time they got out.

Temperatures were around -6C.


Erotic art


An erotic sculpture of a mythological Greek warrior which lay unnoticed in a cupboard of x-rated art for years is to go on show alongside the Elgin Marbles in a new exhibition.

The British Museum display will feature around 150 objects including a bronze sculpture of a nude athlete pulled from the sea off Croatia in 1999, a Michelangelo sketch, and a Roman copy of a Greek sculpture owned by the Vatican.

Six Parthenon sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, will be moved out of their usual home to another part of the central London museum for the exhibition, ‘Defining Beauty: The Body In Ancient Greek Art’.

Also on show will be a small sculpture of Ajax — a mythical Greek warrior.


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