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LONDON - Police were searching Saturday for thieves who broke into a house in northern England and stole five Chihuahuas, including the "best puppy in breed" champion at this year's Crufts competition. Chihuahuas at Crufts. Credit: Getty Editorial Valenchino Chihuahua Xena was snatched along with four other dogs on Thursday. Between them they are thought to be worth tens of thousands of pounds (dollars, euros), although owner Mal Hilton said he was more concerned that they would come to harm. "I'm 65 years old and I haven't cried for years until now. They are just like our children. We are devastated by this and we just want them back," he said. He said thieves broke into his house in...

TOKYO - Japan killed 251 minke whales during the 2014 Antarctic hunt, in what is expected to be the last "research whaling" mission in the Southern Ocean after an international court ruling. Minke whale. Credit: Getty Creative According to data released by Japan's Fisheries Agency on Tuesday, the catch was more than double last year's tally of 103 minke whales, but much smaller than the target of 935. The whalers caught no fin whales during the hunt, which ran between January 3 and March 13, the agency said. Japan is a signatory to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which bans commercial hunting, but has insisted its operation was research -- even though it acknowledged the meat...

THE HAGUE - The UN's top court will rule Monday whether Japan has the right to hunt whales in the Antarctic, in an emotive case activists say is make-or-break for the giant mammal's future. Credit: Getty Editorial Australia in 2010 hauled Japan to the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Tokyo of exploiting a loophole by hunting whales as scientific research, despite a 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Australia has asked the world court to order Japan to stop its JARPA II research programme and "revoke any authorisations, permits or licences" to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean. During hearings last year, Australia accused Japan of doing nothing more than "cloaking...

COPENHAGEN - A Copenhagen zoo that prompted international outrage by putting down a healthy giraffe and dissecting it in public has killed two lions and their two cubs to make way for a new male, it said on Tuesday. Credit: Flickr "Because of the pride of lions' natural structure and behaviour, the zoo has had to euthanise the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves," Copenhagen Zoo said in a statement. The 10-month-old lions "would have been killed by the new male lion as soon as he got the chance," it said. The four lions were put down on Monday after the zoo had failed to find a new home for them, a spokesman told AFP, confirming the four were...

Leopard on the Loose in Indian City

LUCKNOW - A northern Indian city stayed on alert on Tuesday after a wild leopard strayed into a hospital, a cinema and an apartment block, officials said. Credit: Associated Press Authorities had closed schools, colleges and markets on Monday in Meerut, 60 kilometres (37 miles) northeast of the Indian capital, after the leopard was discovered prowling the city's streets. Wildlife officials backed by police have fanned out across the city of 3.5 million people to try to tranquilise and catch the animal, although there were no sightings on Tuesday. "It is quite possible that the leopard has retreated to the jungle by now, but we can't take chances. We are on the alert," senior local...