Saturday, February 15, 2014


British woman cuts off tattoo

GRAPHIC CONTENT: Scorned British woman cuts off tattoo of ex-boyfriend's name and mails him skin Torz Reynolds, 26, sliced the 'Chopper's B****' tattoo off her arm and mailed it to Stuart 'Chopper' May, saying that he cheated on her and lied about moving to Alaska for a job. Her bloody Valentine! A scorned British woman cut out the tattoo of her ex-boyfriend's name and sent the skin to him in the post. "Posting the tattoo to Chopper sent a clear message," Reynolds told the Daily Star, adding: "Now he knows never to mess with me again." Reynolds claims that May, who she'd dated for two years, ditched her by pretending to move to Alaska for his dream job. Read more:


Monday, February 10, 2014

Copenhagen Zoo staff get death threats

(CNN) -- Staff at a Danish zoo where a healthy giraffe was euthanized have received death threats as debate rages online over the killing, which took place despite a petition signed by thousands of animal lovers. Several staff members were targeted after the animal, named Marius, was put down, Copenhagen Zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbæk Bro told CNN on Monday. He added that Bengt Holst, director of research and conservation at Copenhagen Zoo "received threats via telephone and e-mails." While some American zoo officials have said this is not standard practice for their facilities, the executive director of a European body governing 345 institutions has said that this can be chalked up to a misunderstanding about what is "normal in Danish culture" and that zoological experts could do a better job of communicating. "People have perhaps lost sight of the bigger picture and perhaps we as zoos have not been good at explaining why on very few occasions we need to make decisions like this," said Lesley Dickie, executive director of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The Copenhagen Zoo said it euthanized Marius on Sunday to avoid inbreeding. A veterinarian shot Marius with a rifle as he leaned down to munch on rye bread, a favorite snack. After an autopsy the giraffe was dismembered in front of an audience that included children and fed to the zoo's lions, tigers and leopards. Photos: Danish zoo kills healthy giraffe Photos: Danish zoo kills healthy giraffe Danish Zoo criticized for killing giraffe Giraffe Controversy in Copenhagen Zoo puts down healthy giraffe OPINION: Why zoo was right to kill giraffe "Our giraffes are part of an international breeding program, which has a purpose of ensuring a sound and healthy population of giraffes," Holst told CNN. "It can only be done by matching the genetic composition of the various animals with the available space. ... When giraffes breed as well as they do now, then you will inevitably run into so-called surplus problems now and then." As for the public autopsy, Holst said Monday that the zoo staff saw it as a learning opportunity because zoos have an obligation "not to make nature into a Disney World," but rather show those interested in "the real thing." He further pointed out that most of the children in attendance brought their parents to the autopsy, not vice versa. "It's not by accident that people came by here," he said. This may speak to the cultural gap Dickie referenced. At the Copenhagen Zoo, she said, all euthanized animals are autopsied, with some parts used for research and the rest of the animal fed to the zoo's carnivores. "They strongly believe that the public should know how autopsies are done, what is the work of a vet in the zoo," she said. Shame on whom? That didn't dull the outrage sparked by the killing, as many people expressed their revulsion on the zoo's Facebook page. "I find the killing of innocent baby giraffe Absolutely Barbaric. And to do it in front of children just desensitizes them to brutal killing of animals. SHAME ON YOU!" Hope Welch posted Monday. However some users pointed out the hypocrisy of those who criticized the zoo without any understanding of the reasons behind the euthanasia, or who ate meat without knowing its true origin. "The level of crass hypocrisy demonstrated by the vast majority of comments on this thread is absolutely repugnant. Shame on you, armchair warrior, shame on you," wrote Matthew Ogden. OPINION: Why killing Marius doesn't stand up to scrutiny More than 27,000 people had signed a "Save Marius" petition, appealing for a last-minute change of heart. "The zoo has raised him so it is their responsibility to find him a home," author Maria Evans wrote on the petition site. When that petition failed, another petition popped up Monday, titled, "Fire Bengt Holst From the Copenhagen Zoo For Having Marius the Giraffe Killed." It had more than 16,000 signatures as of 3:30 p.m. ET. Zookeeper and TV personality Jack Hanna, who is also director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, joined the chorus of outrage Monday, calling the Copenhagen Zoo's decision "the most abominable, insensitive, ridiculous thing I've ever heard of." He also questioned why the Copenhagen Zoo would keep breeding animals for which they didn't have room. The Columbus Zoo would never euthanize an animal in this manner, Hanna said, and he wouldn't condone showing an animal consume another animal to children. "I know it's natural in nature. I'm not an idiot," he said, "but I don't need to have some 2- and 3- and 6-year-olds -- they cannot understand at that age. You understand they don't understand nature. They haven't been to Africa, so that's what we do at the zoos. We try to educate people at zoos on what happens in the wild." Which is exactly what Holst argues the Copenhagen Zoo was doing. As for exploring other purportedly more humane options, such as lethal injection or sterilization, Holst said that an injection would have contaminated about 200 kilograms of perfectly good meat, which was out of the question. He added, "if we just sterilize him, he will take up space for more genetically valuable giraffes." Options deemed not viable Several zoos volunteered to take Marius. The UK's Yorkshire Wildlife Park, which said it has the capacity for an extra male, was among several places that offered to take him. Copenhagen Zoo said in a Q&A about the decision on its website, "it is not possible to transfer the giraffe to another zoo as it will cause inbreeding." The EAZA's Dickie said some institutions were ruled out because they did not meet her organization's strict protocols, and the Copenhagen Zoo wouldn't send Marius to an institution with "lesser standards of welfare." She further said that while EAZA members are "saddened by the death of any animal in our care," the EAZA supports the Copenhagen Zoo's decision and reiterated the zoo's claim that "transfer within our network does not represent a solution to the unsuitability of the individual animal for breeding." In the EAZA's history, which dates back to the early 1800s, its member zoos have euthanized only five giraffes, Dickie said. Numerous American zoos did not immediately respond to requests for interviews. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums declined a request, issuing a short statement from executive director Kris Vehrs stating that EAZA's "programs and procedures vary from those of the AZA." "Through the AZA Species Survival Plan program, these methods include science-based breeding recommendations and cooperating to plan for adequate space," Vehrs said in the statement. The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, also declined an interview but said its birth plans were managed by the AZA Species Survival Plan. "With each new animal birth, Woodland Park Zoo establishes a breeding and relocation plan that ensures a healthy and genetically sound future for the individual and species," the statement said. To claims that the Copenhagen Zoo acted irresponsibly by allowing Marius to be born if it had no room to house him, Dickie said the giraffe was born more than two years ago, and it's difficult to predict "genetic kinship" and a zoo's available space that far out. As for preventing the giraffes from breeding, that would violate the EAZA's standard of "providing a behavioral repertoire as natural as possible" for animals in captivity, she said. "Conservation is not always simple. It's not always clean," she said. "I'm afraid that when we have limited space in zoos -- and it's limited because of problems in the wild, of course, and more and more animals need our help -- then we sometimes have to make these really tough decisions."

Sunday, February 9, 2014



(CNN) -- Harry Devert's motorcycle journey from the United States to Latin America is somewhat reminiscent of "The Motorcycle Diaries," which recount the South American travels of revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara on an old motorbike in search of his insurgent spirit. But Devert, 32, who left a job as a trader in finance to travel the world, has not been in touch with his mother or girlfriend in New York since January 25. That day he sent girlfriend Sarah Ashley Schiear an ominous text via the WhatsApp messenger app. "Just got an hour and a half long escort out of some area it was too dangerous for me to be," the message said. "Stopping for lunch and ... voila Internet. ... Gonna get back on the road soon. Apparently there's another military escort waiting for me in some other town... I'm running way late because of the crazy military stuff...hopefully get a chance to talk to you tonight when I (hopefully) finally arrive." He had checked out of a bed and breakfast in the southwestern Mexican state of Michoacan and planned to travel to a beach in Zihuatanejo, on the Pacific coast, that was in the final scene of the film "The Shawshank Redemption," according to friends and family. "My son is a great communicator and he always lets me know -- because I'm anxious -- as close as he can where he's going to be or if he's going to be out of touch," his mother, Ann Devert, told CNN Saturday. Ann Devert said she last heard from her son January 23. The phone connection was poor. He told her he'd be out of cell phone and Internet range a few days. She said he called every January 29, his late father's birthday, "and when he didn't, I felt a misgiving but I thought maybe it would take a couple of days," she said. "He didn't call." Then, Ann Devert heard from a friend who recently returned from Michoacan, where vigilante self-defense groups in numerous communities have engaged in deadly confrontations with the Knights Templar drug cartel. After vigilantes threatened to descend on a key cartel area last month, the Mexican government sent in thousands of troops and police to try to keep the peace. The government has even joined forces with the vigilantes as the Knights Templar become further entrenched in the agricultural state. "This is an area in Michoacan that has been very dangerous," said Ann Devert, who has been in contact with The Missing Americans Project, a Website dedicated to sharing information and resources about U.S. citizens missing in other countries. Last week, Ann Devert contacted both the American and French embassies in Mexico. Her son, born in France, has dual citizenship. "The wheels of diplomatic work sometimes grind slowly," she lamented. "They are on top of things as much as they can be." Schiear, 28, was less diplomatic. "I just feeling pretty lost in terms of the help we are receiving," she said. In a statement Saturday, a U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed that a U.S. citizen was reported missing near Morelia, Michoacan, but declined further comment "due to privacy considerations." "When a U.S. citizen is reported missing in Mexico, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate works with both the missing person's family and Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies to locate the missing individual and return him or her to safety," the statement said. "For missing person cases in Mexico, Mexican law enforcement institutions generally have jurisdiction and play the lead role in the conduct of investigations. We work closely with Mexican authorities to monitor such cases and seek progress as quickly as possible." In Mexico, Interior Ministry officials told CNN that they have not yet confirmed that Devert is missing. Devert's friends and family remain hopeful that his disappearance is only temporary, another story to recount from his wild travels around the world -- from Pamplona, Spain, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and beyond. "I've been chased with a gun in Colombia, chipped my tooth on a gun that was shoved in my mouth in Venezuela and shot everything from a bazooka to a machine gun, an M16 to a Colt .45," Devert wrote in his travel blog, A New Yorker Travels. "I've been in some of the poorest and some of the most dangerous parts of the world and to many of the finest, and I still can't tell which I liked more. I think that life is a pilgrimage." In an Oct. 19 post, Devert described his latest journey on a type of vehicle he had no experience using. "I've never ridden a motorcycle," he wrote. "Mostly, naturally, because I don't know how. So tomorrow I'm going to go to the DMV, get my motorcycle permit, buy a bike and hopefully figure out how to ride it home without crashing. Which I'm sure will be an adventure in itself." He added, "Then in the next 2 or 3 weeks I'm going to drive it across America, through Central America, down to Brazil for the World Cup, and eventually south to Ushuaia, which as far as I can tell from a map is about as far south as one can get on the continent." He purchased a green 2002 Kawasaki. Ann Devert said her son took a safety course and spent hours studying YouTube videos on how to survive falls from bikes. Still, the fact that he had never driven a motorcycle concerned her, she said. He promised not to travel faster than 55 mph, yet he took a nasty spill while speeding in Florida, Ann Devert said. He emerged unscathed. "He always tells me 'I take risks but I'm not an idiot,'" she said. Devert hoped to write about his experiences traveling around Latin America, perhaps in a book. "My son was hoping that instead of a job in an office that he'd be able to somehow use this trip to get enough followers who would maybe read a book that he would write," Ann Devert said. "He's had some extraordinary adventures. He just loves people so." Schiear said Devert spent the last year saving money for the journey. "This trip was kind of him wanting to make it maybe a career or something," she said. "This is what he loved. He wanted to try to figure out a way to keep doing it. He started a website and everything." Friends and family recently created the Help Find Harry page in Facebook, with more than 5,000 likes. "He's one of those people that every single person that he comes into contact with just loved him," said Schiear, who planned to meet Devert in Guatemala. "Everywhere that he's been around the world, families took him in. Everybody's hoping that's ... the end of this crazy story. Somebody has taken him in, and it'll be another one of his wild stories." 'Strong possibility' missing world traveler meant to leave