Magazine

21-08-2004

Holding onto life -with a body weight of 500 grams - Czech doctors are successfully saving tiny newborns. Being a dog's best friend - a Czech man jumps into an alligators' enclosure to save his dog from certain death. And, Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe at a flower show. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

They weigh 500 grams and less - but they have a firm grip on life -and with the help of doctors they come through. In 1985 all babies born prematurely, with a weight of 500 grams and under, had no chance of survival. About twenty children a year are born in the Czech Republic weighing approximately half a kilo -that's six times less than a healthy newborn - and today many of them are saved. By age two you usually can't tell that they were born prematurely. Paediatricians say that while they are totally dedicated to saving every child they can -making the decision is not always easy. "Advanced technology now allows us to keep alive basically any living being - but sometimes the risks are just too great, says paediatrician Richard Plavka. We generally don't try to save babies weighing under 400 grams because the chances of them being severely handicapped are very high. But with babies weighing half a kilo - you know you have a fair chance. The last twenty years have brought considerable progress in this direction. Today there are 50 Czechs who can say that they came into the world weighing half a kilo.

 

We hear plenty of stories about dogs helping to save their masters - but the one I have for you today is the exact opposite. Man can be a dog's best friend as well, it seems. The incident happened at the Usti nad Labem Zoo where a young couple were strolling along with their dog enjoying a sunny afternoon. Then the couple's spaniel unexpectedly jumped into the alligator enclose and needless to say one of the alligators promptly went for the unexpected snack. When he saw what was happening Michal Gubik jumped into the enclosure and fought the alligator for his dog, literally tearing it out of the animal's jaws. He saved the dog's life and escaped unscathed.

Michal Gubik with his dog, photo: CTKMichal Gubik with his dog, photo: CTK It was incredibly fortunate, the keeper said later. There was another much bigger alligator watching from the sidelines who luckily didn't interfere. If he had it could have ended very badly indeed. But luckily the alligators had been fed -and because they've lived in captivity for so long they are less aggressive. I know it was a risk - Gubik said - but I would do it again if the need arose.

 

The annual August "train rally" took place for the 16th time this year attracting dozens of contestants. The contest is for people who enjoy travelling by train -and actually consider frustrating hurdles such as delays missed connections - a challenge! The train-hopping event is organized by a fun loving Czech called Robert Babilon and the idea is for contestants to cover as many kilometres by train in 24 hours as possible and pass through as many "premium" stations as possible on the way. The best of them manage to cover some 1,200 kilometres by train in 24 hours -although in their enthusiasm to win - many have had to spend the night at a sleepy out of the way railway station waiting for the morning milk train - because they missed a planned change-over by a few minutes.

"It is the unpredictability of Czech railways that adds to the drama" one of the contestants, explained - "if everything ran like clockwork then it would just be a matter of precise calculation which you could do from home - but in real life you come up against plenty of hurdles and that adds to the drama."

The organizer has for years tried to get Czech Railways to cooperate - to at least give the contestants a free ride on that day -but he has always been refused. Czech Railways wants nothing to do with the annual train rally - and is clearly affronted by the fact that someone has turned its inadequacies into a national sport. One thing works in the contestants favour - they don't have to waste any time training - if they use Czech railways they train all year round.

 

Libochovice ChateauLibochovice Chateau The Libochovice Chateau last week held its annual flower show. The aim is to present the latest trends in flower arrangement -in particular bouquets. But you won't see them placed in boring vases - they are shown on the catwalk - by models and famous personalities - among them Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Emperor Charles IV. The show culminated with thirty models in white, pink and blue bridal costumes showing off bridal bouquets. Over 400 visitors turned up to see the flower show this year and left with their arms loaded with flowers. The proceeds of the event go to charity.

Flora Olomouc, photo: CTKFlora Olomouc, photo: CTK If you happen to like flower shows and are listening to us in the Czech Republic -then you still have time to attend the annual flower show Flora held in the city of Olomouc - no fashion show there I'm afraid - but I hear the flower arrangements are pretty impressive. That's open until Sunday, August 22nd -so it gives you just one more day.

 

Last week tourists to the Lesser Town were amazed to find themselves face to face with a man in the police uniform of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Judging by the amount of pictures he was asked to pose for with tourists from all over the world Mirek Jilemnicky's fame will travel far. The man is a history buff and aside from knowing everything there is to know about the Austro-Hungarian Empire he insists on celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Frantisek Josef I, the last but one Hapsburg on the Czech throne - with pomp and ceremony. He dresses up for the occasion - in a perfect replica of the police uniform of the times, sword and all. The Austro-Hungarian Empire is part of our history - and it is well to remember it, he says.

 

The town of Jesenik in the eastern part of the country has a nice way of developing good-neighbourly relations -across the Czech- Polish border. It holds an annual outdoor event which is known as the Day of Beer and Good Cheer and invites Poles from across the border to come and join in the fun. This year over a thousand of them turned up - arriving in cars and busses bright and early. Live music, beer from 14 Czech breweries and barbecues guarantee that everyone's happy. The event has an eight year tradition - and it looks like its here to stay.

 

Czech tourists who travel the world bring back more than exotic souvenirs and impressive snapshots - they are bringing home serious illnesses - such as malaria and dysentery. The Prague Hygiene Office has issued an appeal to all Czech globe trotters to show greater responsibility with regard to their health and to turn up for the respective vaccinations in time - ie. at least six weeks in advance. So please try to remember that when you go on that Safari trip a pair of shorts, sandals and a camera is not all you need!

21-08-2004