15-07-2006

A Czech expedition sets of for the Gobi desert in Mongolia to find a dinosaur skeleton. There's a baby boom at the Czech senate - though nothing to do with the elderly senators. And, a very short ride on a tiger - but it got Mr. Joo into the Czech Book of Records! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

We've all seen them and some of us have used them. I'm talking about the disposable paper bags that airlines provide for - well, throwing up. Mr. Kubista from Plzen has gone a step further - he collects them. In the course of his lifetime he has assembled over 12,000 of these paper bags and they now fill up every spare nook and cranny of his apartment. His bedroom walls are plastered with them, his living room is plastered with them, as is his kitchen. Everywhere you look there are boxes full of them. Technically speaking there is no better place to throw up than at Mr. Kubista's. Except that he would not dream of using any of the precious bags in his collection for this purpose. The bags carry the names of airlines in various languages. What Mr. Kubista himself failed to get them on his frequent travels abroad, his friends got them for him. His latest addition is a paper bag from Turkmenistan airlines. Many of the bags are no longer being produced -or have been replaced by new versions. They span half a century. Mr. Kubista's only regret is that the future of "throw-up" bags is uncertain. Many airlines are economizing and have started using just plain old paper bags. Up in the clouds during a turbulent flight - you may not think it makes any difference, but for Mr. Kubista in Plzen it's a minor tragedy.

 

Some people like being contrary. They swim in icy rivers in winter and ski down their road in sweltering 30 degree heat. In Usti nad Labem and Melnik summer skiing has become something of a tradition. It's actually a summer "fun event" held on the main square. A ski-marathon which involves various hurdles and a compulsory pint of beer mid-race - just to make it more difficult. Participants use old skis and dress up in funny costumes. "Once you decide to write off a pair of old skis - to be used for the summer race - then you come back every year," the organizers explain. And, with every year the race has more participants. You can tell because at the end of every summer skiing marathon there's a crazy group photo to remember the event by...

 

There's a baby boom at the Czech Senate. Nothing to do with the elderly senators though. Only the peacocks which grace the Senate's Wallenstein Gardens have surprised everyone by brining out four little baby peacocks. And more are allegedly on the way - though it is not clear how many because the mother can't be disturbed. The gardeners have closed off that part of the gardens to the public - in order to give them some peace and privacy. Originally three females and one male peacock resided at the Wallenstein Gardens - by the end of the summer their number may have tripled.

 

The owner of Joo-jo Circus - Jaromir Joo - has made it into the Czech Book of Records with a feat few people would be willing to try. He rode on a tiger for a record-breaking thirty seconds. Mr. Joo, who trains tigers, was hoping for a longer ride but Borneo was having none of it and threw his trainer off his back after just thirty seconds. His trainer was lucky to get away with just a snarl - in reprimand.

 

A Czech expedition has set of for the Gobi desert in Mongolia in the hope of finding a preserved dinosaur skeleton. The team of paleontologists has received permission from the Mongolian authorities and if it is lucky enough to unearth a complete dinosaur skeleton it will be transported to Prague for research purposes. Such a skeleton would reveal what the animal looked like, what it fed on and possibly even what killed it. The search is expected to last for a period of four years - although work in the field will only be possible from the beginning of June till the end of August. At other times temperatures in the Gobi desert drop to below minus fifty degrees Celsius.

 

Firemen in Prague's Cerny Most district were led a fine chase by a raccoon last week. Someone called to say there was a raccoon stuck in a tree - a high poplar - and looked like it needed help. So an eleven-member fire crew set off and really found the raccoon up the given tree. However every time they stretched the ladder higher up the raccoon went even higher or jumped from one tree to the next. After half an hour of this the raccoon scaled down and quick as a flash disappeared in some bushes. Racoons don't live in the wild in the Czech Republic and this one had escaped from its owner. Although it was bred in captivity zoologists say that its chances of survival in Prague during the warm summer months are very high.

 

Brown bears appear to have started re-settling in the Beskydy mountains. Five brown bears are reported to have crossed over from the Slovak side of the border where there is a population of around seven hundred bears. The five bears have shown no signs of wanting to return to Slovakia but zoologists say that the main test will be whether they start breeding here. "When bears breed somewhere it means they feel relatively safe in that area," says zoologist Zbynek Sisa. "Once they start to breed in the Czech mountains we can be sure they will stay." Zoologists are happy about this development, saying that bears belong in the Czech mountains and their absence has adversely affected the balance of forces in nature, with some species over-breeding because they have no natural predator and subsequently harming the local flora. Allegedly there's plenty of food in the Beskydy mountains to feed a small population of bears. But environmental activist Petr Styblo says much will depend on how people in the vicinity behave in the next few months.

15-07-2006