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StrangeSights: A new era of ‘panda diplomacy’; ‘Bobi’ posthumously loses “oldest dog” title; and, the inaugural ‘Florida Man Games’…

DAVID ADAMS provides a round-up of some stories on the odder side of life…

Giant panda cubs born in 2018 eat and play during a group birthday celebration at Shenshuping panda base in Wolong, Sichuan province, China, on 25th  July, 2019. PICTURE: China Daily via Reuters/File photo

• China’s Wildlife Conservation Association is working with the National Zoo in Washington in an arrangement that could bring more pandas back to the United States, signalling improving diplomatic relations between the two superpowers. China has lent its beloved bears to zoos in various countries over the years as goodwill animal ambassadors and also fostered a modern Sino-US “panda diplomacy” with the gesture. “Relevant Chinese institutions have signed agreements with the Madrid Zoo in Spain and the San Diego Zoo in the United States on a new round of international cooperation in the protection of giant pandas,” said Mao Ning on Thursday, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, when addressing a query at a regular press briefing. “They are also working with the Washington National Zoo in the United States and [Viennna Zoo] in Austria to actively negotiate and launch a new round of cooperation.” Earlier, the Wildlife Conservation Association said on its WeChat social media account that it had reached and signed agreements for the conservation of giant pandas with several zoos. Back in November, the National Zoo in Washington returned three pandas to China as part of a more than 50-year-old legacy, leaving Georgia’s Zoo Atlanta as the only one in the US with a giant panda program. That loan agreement for the zoo’s four pandas expires this year, which meant there would be no pandas in the US for the first time since 1972 when the Chinese Government presented two giant pandas as gifts to the United States after President Richard Nixon’s historic Cold War visit to China. “We look forward to a new round of international giant panda protection cooperation with relevant countries, which will further expand scientific research results on the protection of giant pandas and other endangered species, and promote people-to-people bonds and people-to-people friendship,” Mao said. Over the past year, China and the United States have had fraught relations over a number of global issues from regional wars, trade disputes and ongoing spying allegations. Leaders from both countries have had several round of talks over the past few months to ease tensions. – EDUARDO BAPTISTA and BERNARD ORR, Beijing, China/Reuters


A picture of Bobi, who died in October last year. PICTURE: Screenshot.

Guinness World Records has revoked the title of the “world’s oldest dog” it awarded a now-deceased Portuguese canine named Bobi last year, as it found no conclusive evidence that he had in fact lived for more than 31 years, it said last Thursday. GWR launched the review following complaints by some veterinarians who raised doubts over his age. Bobi’s owner, Leonel Costa, did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro Alentejano who spent his entire life in a village in central Portugal, died in October last year.


Competitors take part in the Florida Man Games. PICTURE: Screenshot via Reuters TV 

 In the eccentric landscape of Florida, where the peculiar and the hilarious often intertwine, Pete Melfi had a vision. He wanted to blend the outrageousness of Florida Man stories with the thrill of athletic competition, birthing the inaugural Florida Man Games. which were held last Saturday in St Augustine, south of Jacksonville. With competitions like sumo wrestling with beers and chicken coop bingo, the stage was set for a day of laughter and sporting mayhem. Participants, eager to partake in the madness, poured in from all around Florida. Spectators, too, flocked to witness the spectacle, including former American Gladiators Dan “Nitro” Clark and Lori “Ice” Fetrick, who served as judges for the occasion. The Florida Man Games kicked off with uproarious energy, with sumo wrestlers clashing amidst cheers and laughter. Chicken coop bingo followed suit, bringing a new level of Floridaness to the proceedings. But it was the noodle mud pool fights that stole the show, as contestants flung themselves into the muck with abandon, noodles flying in all directions. The Florida Man Games succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, Melfi said. He dreams that the riotous celebration of Florida’s unique spirit will become an annual tradition around the state. – Reuters TV



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