Festive reindeer for rent at Russian zoo

  • 14 December 2018
Russian Royev Ruchei zoo New Year promotion, 2018 Image copyright roev.ru
Image caption The reindeer are used to being around people

A Russian zoo is renting out reindeer, foxes and huskies to local people to enhance their Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Royev Ruchei in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk is one of the biggest zoos in Russia, and its new Animals at Home service means "some zoo residents can be brought along for photo opportunities or children's parties, anywhere in the city," local Channel 7 TV reports.

The zoo says the reindeer are in particularly high demand, and are most often loaned out to accompany Grandfather Frost - Russia's answer to Santa - on his visits to children. Krasnoyarsk freezes hard at this time of year, so a snowy background is pretty much guaranteed.

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All the animals are specially prepared for their outings, and there is no risk to the public, the zoo insists.

Read full article Festive reindeer for rent at Russian zoo

Short tempers flare in NZ buses row

  • 13 December 2018
Bus in Wellington, New Zealand Image copyright Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Wellington buses can get hot at this time of year

A row has broken out in New Zealand over a ban on bus drivers wearing shorts to work, right in the middle of the country's summer.

Two drivers in the capital Wellington were told not to come to work the next day because they refused to wear uniform trousers, city newspaper The Dominion Post reports.

Read full article Short tempers flare in NZ buses row

Tourists risk lives on Polish thin ice

  • 13 December 2018
Morksie Oko lake in April, Poland Image copyright Dudva/Wikimedia Commons
Image caption The lake regularly freezes over until April

Park rangers are fighting a losing battle against visitors willing to risk their lives on the thin ice of a lake in Poland's southern mountains.

Morskie Oko lake is a popular tourist destination all year round, but the sight of people venturing out onto the deceptively thin ice cover prompted the Tatra National Park Rangers to post this urgent warning on Facebook at the start of the month: "Tourists, don't go out onto the Morskie Oko ice. It's thin, and can lead to great danger. We appeal to you to use your judgment and act responsibly!"

Read full article Tourists risk lives on Polish thin ice

Danish sea urchin fossil reveals ancient drama

  • 10 December 2018
Drawing of a marine predator biting on a sea urchin Image copyright TV Ost
Image caption It's believed the sea urchin survived a snack attack by an aquatic lizard

An amateur paleontologist has discovered a rare 66-million-year-old sea urchin on a beach in Denmark.

Peter Bennicke stumbled across the ancient creature while on a fossil hunt at white cliffs of Stevns Klint on the Island of Møn, a UNESCO World Heritage site, according to the Danish TV2 public broadcaster.

Read full article Danish sea urchin fossil reveals ancient drama

Taiwan students DNA-tested in yoghurt thief whodunnit

  • 4 December 2018
A woman drinking a yoghurt drink Image copyright CTI News
Image caption An investigation into who stole a yoghurt drink cost Taiwanese taxpayers more than NT$18,000 (£459; $586)

A woman has been charged with theft in Taiwan for stealing a yoghurt drink from her roommate after being identified by a DNA test, it's reported.

According to the broadcaster TVBS, the unnamed suspect in Taipei was sharing a student house with five other women who were studying at the city's Chinese Culture University.

Read full article Taiwan students DNA-tested in yoghurt thief whodunnit

Poland seeks top 100 national dishes

  • 3 December 2018
Examples of Polish cuisine Image copyright Polish Ministry of Agriculture
Image caption Three contenders for the list

Poland's agriculture minister wants to codify Polish national cuisine, in a move that has prompted considerable debate in the country's media.

Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski says the aim is to create a canon of 100 dishes to mark this year's centenary of the restoration of Polish independence, Polish radio reports.

Read full article Poland seeks top 100 national dishes

China employees fined for walking fewer than 180,000 steps

  • 29 November 2018
A generic picture of someone walking Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Staff members were penalised more the further away from the target they were

A company in China has come under fire for fining employees if they don't walk at least 180,000 steps a month, it's reported.

According to Information Times, employees at an unnamed real estate firm in the southern city of Guangzhou have been fined 0.01 yuan (0.1 cents; 0.1 pence) for every step that they fail to make when trying to reach their target.

Read full article China employees fined for walking fewer than 180,000 steps

Finnish lake reveals Stone Age rock art

  • 28 November 2018
Stone Age hand print, Finland, 2018 Image copyright Ismo Luukkonen
Image caption A colour-enhanced image of a red right hand

New Stone Age paintings have been found on a rock face by a sprawling lake system in eastern Finland.

The red-painted stripes and hand markings were partially hidden under lichen on Tikaskaarteenvuori hill near the village of Anttola, which lies on the shore of Lake Luonteri, the Yle public broadcaster reports.

Read full article Finnish lake reveals Stone Age rock art

Tajik army faces criticism over draft campaign

  • 23 November 2018
Tajik army recruits, 2018 Image copyright akhbor.com
Image caption Tajik men aged 18-27 are eligible for the draft

The Tajik army has completed its autumn conscription campaign in record time, amid reports of men being forced to join up - including a 62-year-old out for an evening stroll.

Spokesman Orif Nozimiyon told the ASIA-Plus news site that the draft was completed eight days short of the 30 November deadline, and boasted of a record number of volunteers this year.

Read full article Tajik army faces criticism over draft campaign

Siberian mayor's drive to sell off council cars

  • 22 November 2018
Sardana Avksentyeva's selfie on Instagram Image copyright Sardana Avksentyeva
Image caption Sardana Avksentyeva: "The ones on the photo will be sold first."

The new self-styled "people's mayor" of Yakutsk in Siberia is having a clear-out of the city's garage, promising to sell pricey foreign vehicles in order to fund social schemes.

Sardana Avksentyeva swept to victory in September, beating a member of President Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party to become the first woman to take charge of the city in the process.

Read full article Siberian mayor's drive to sell off council cars