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Odd stories in the news



A seaside zoo is to become an exclusive couples’ resort for penguins – just as Valentine’s Day looms.

Torquay’s coastal zoo and aquarium Living Coasts is currently home to more than 80 penguins of two species, African and macaroni.

The macaroni penguins include five pairs, eight single males and two single females and most of the bachelors will move to another zoo in order to give the paired birds peace and privacy for breeding.


A water company is hunting leads on burst pipes by deploying Britain’s first sniffer dog trained to hound down water leaks.

Snipe, a 16-month-old cocker spaniel, has undergone weeks of training by ex-military personnel to detect problem pipes by sniffing out tiny amounts of chlorine in tap water.

The dog has now been recruited by United Utilities (UU), who supply around three million homes in the North West of England, in a UK first for dog leak detection.


The wealthiest residents in one of the country’s richest boroughs will be asked to pay a voluntary ‘tax’ to help the young, homeless and lonely.

Westminster Council will write to those living in the area’s most expensive properties to make an extra £833 voluntary contribution on top of their council tax to help pay for local projects.

The money raised is earmarked for projects aimed at helping young people, rough-sleepers and the lonely.


An online professor has incorrectly told a student that Australia is not a country and given her a failing grade, prompting Southern New Hampshire University to replace the instructor.

Buzzfeed News reported that the 27-year-old student in Idaho was assigned to compare American social norms to that of another country. She chose to study social media use in Australia, but the professor gave her a zero on that portion of the assignment, saying Australia is a continent, not a country.

Australia is actually both — a country and a continent. University officials told WMUR-TV the instructor has been replaced following an investigation.


An environmental group wants couples to think of wild animals before acting like them this Valentine’s Day.

The Centre for Biological Diversity handed out endangered species condoms at the Carnegie Science Centre’s adults-only Valentine’s event at a museum in Pittsburgh.

The wrappers featured colourful artwork and slogans like: “Before it gets any hotter… remember the sea otter”, and: “Can’t refrain? Think of the whooping crane”. The group hopes to show how human population growth negatively affects wildlife.


German authorities have arrested a man who offered his services as an agent to three foreign intelligence services.

Federal prosecutors said the 27-year-old German, identified only as Danny Guenter G in line with local privacy rules, was arrested in Leipzig on Wednesday. They said he had been released but is still under investigation for declaring himself prepared to carry out espionage.

Prosecutors said the suspect sent application letters to three foreign services, which they didn’t identify, asking to be employed as an agent. They added: “He said he was prepared, if he was recruited, to carry out any activities asked of him.”