x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Chinese online store sells animal skin products

A quick look of interesting and quirky news around the world.

Taobao, China's largest online retailer, is offering thousands of products made from the skins of domestic pets. One item on offer by a seller is a waistcoat made from cat skin.

He had only sold one of it and nothing else, according to Shanghai Daily.The China Small Animal Protection Association volunteers try to protect the animals, but the job is hard without government help.

Taobao insists the sale of products made from domestic pets and endangered species is banned. Enforcement of the rules is, ahem, spotty.

Angry? Punch a panda

The endangered species laws of most countries prohibit poaching and trapping for collection in a zoo. What about punching a panda?

Nate Hill, a performance artist in New York, thinks it's OK. Hill wears a bodysuit, white panda paw gloves and a panda-like head the side of a huge pumpkin on the streets of Manhattan and encourages people to strike him.

The Punch Me Panda act is a "community service", Hill says. "I knew people want to punch things because I want to punch things."

17 ridgebacks born in Berlin

We know of at least one Rhodesian ridgeback in Abu Dhabi, a wonderfully friendly dog named Ginger. She'll be happy to know that a cousin, several times removed, has given birth recently, to 17.

Ramona Wegemann, in the German town of Ebereschenhof, a 45-minute drive north-west of Berlin, says she was completely tired out trying to feed the 17 whelps.

Wegemann worked hard: all eight females and nine males survived. The pups are now 10 weeks old and presumably ready for a new owner.

We counted only 6,900

Perhaps it's not unusual that designers of the Philippines' most recent peso notes left off a few islands. There are so many!

But everyone's a critic these days, especially armchair cartographers. The president, Benigno Aquino, says the new notes are not being recalled and, frankly, if he wanted to find something in the Philippines he'd use a map. Besides, the artists had artistic licence.

But what kind of licence? The beak of the rare blue-naped parrot on the 500-peso bill is supposed to be red, not yellow.

The lost head of King Henri

Private collectors in France had, since the late 18th century, passed down an odd bit of French history: the head of King Henri IV.

The embalmed head had lain attached to the rest of the old king in its grave in a basilica near Paris since his assassination in 1610. But in 1793, the head was separated and went missing. (And you thought it was only Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette who'd lost their heads in the French Revolution.) Now scientists say identifying marks - a nose lesion, a healed stab wound and a pierced right ear - prove it's Henri's.

What's the buzz?

The results of a science project by eight-year-old pupils from an elementary school in England have been peer-reviewed and published in Biology Letters, published by the Royal Society. The children wanted to learn about insect colour and pattern vision, so they watched bumblebees in their local churchyard. Commentary on their results said the experiments were modest and lacked statistical analyses but held their own compared with those conducted by trained specialists.

rbeauchemin@thenational.ae