A regular weekly feature to be sure you get a dose of cheer amid the doom and gloom. This week: the wildlife edition.
• Workers from the nature aid centre in Oudsbergen in Limburg province last week managed to evacuate a neglected lion from a circus in Normandy in France, at the request of French police and nature organisation One Voice. The four Limburgers were accompanies by 50 police and 30 agents of the French environment police, who were expecting resistance from circus management. In the end one male lion could be rescued, but three lionesses had to be left behind. The lion has been moved to safety in an animal park in Lyon.
• The Brussels regional government has compiled a list of 422 reptiles which are allowed to be kept as pets by residents. The list includes 249 lizards, 149 snakes and 66 turtles. The list represents animals that are considered easy for amateurs to manage, but also takes account of availability of food, the size of the animal and its vulnerability.
• Japanese scientists claim to have found a way of replacing the role of bees in the fertilisation of plants: soap bubbles. In their experiments, bubbles were filled with pollen and fired out of a child’s bubble pistol in a pear orchard. When the bubbles come in contact with the pear blossoms, they burst, releasing the pollen and pollinating the trees. However critics point out that the team went looking for a technological solution where a natural, simple and attractive solution already exists – bees themselves.
• An animal and bird sanctuary in Merelbeke in East Flanders was this week called out to rescue a young fox that had become trapped in the filter system of a swimming pool. The fox had landed in the pool and was unable to climb out, so tried to escape through the filter, where it became trapped. The fox was rescued safely and is doing well.
• Finally, six baby barn owls have been born in Steenokkerzeel in Flemish Brabant, the result of a campaign by a local bird-watching association to bring the species back to the commune. They put up nest-boxes, two of which were successful in attracting adults who have now produced six chicks, which will be ringed to allow their future progress to be mapped.
“This has been a great success for us. The barn owl had long since disappeared from our community, so we are very happy that they are back,” said mayor Kurt Ryon.