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Life's a Beach for Italy's Dogs

ROME - The sun brollies are up, the beach loungers full and the water is full of daytrippers splashing about. It is a classic Italian scene but with one crucial difference: the beach bums frolicking in the waves at Maccarese are nearly all dogs, revelling in a rare chance to romp by the seaside. Welcome to BauBeach, a canine-friendly stretch of sand on the outskirts of Rome that has pioneered a nationwide trend towards providing space for dogs and owners to enjoy the delights of summer together. "This is a beach for dogs, we humans are only here as their guests," says Jose Luis, a regular visitor with his Labrador, Morena. He is only half joking. Every dog that turns up is provided with a...

Science Exonerates Theft-Accused Magpies

PARIS - Magpies, black-and-white birds which for generations have been known as jewelry thieves, are in fact wary of shiny objects, a myth-busting study has claimed. Credit: Getty Creative In a series of experiments, British animal behaviorists found that, far from being kleptomaniacs, the birds were in fact fearful of unknown objects. The team had arranged a selection of objects, shiny and dull, at different sites on the University of Exeter campus and observed the reaction of wild and captive magpies. Items included metal screws and foil rings -- half of them painted blue with matt paint and the rest left shiny -- and a piece of aluminum foil, with piles of nuts in between. "Magpies...

Australian Crocodile Kills Fisherman

SYDNEY - A white-headed crocodile nicknamed Michael Jackson has been shot dead, reports said Tuesday, after the predator apparently killed a fisherman in Australia's north. Credit: Associated Press Authorities were called in when a 57-year-old man disappeared after wading into the croc-infested Adelaide River to disentangle his fishing line late on Monday. Police said the man's wife was with him on the river bank but did not see the moment the animal, believed to be 4.5 metres (15 foot) long, attacked. "The initial information is that she did not see him taken but (heard) a scream and then turned around and saw a tail splashing in the water," Northern Territory duty superintendent Jo...

MIAMI - US theme park operator SeaWorld said Friday it would build new, giant tanks for its killer whales, whose captivity has caused uproar and hit the company's earnings. Credit: Getty Editorial SeaWorld also pledged $10 million in funds for killer-whale research and announced a multi-million-dollar ocean health partnership, but animal rights groups were quick to savage the initiatives. The Orlando, Florida company, whose shares have hit their lowest point since going public in April 2013, has faced rising criticism since last year's release of the documentary "Blackfish." The film probed the impact of captivity on SeaWorld's orcas and the fatal 2010 attack by one of them, Tilikum, on...

COTONOU - Three men -- two Guineans and an Ivorian -- were in custody in Benin on Friday on suspicion of ivory trafficking, police in the financial hub of Cotonou said. Credit: Associated Press The trio were arrested in a hotel "as they tried to sell about 30 kilograms of ivory estimated at more than 10 million CFA (15,000 euros, $20,000)", said Benin Interpol head Marcellin Abbe. The arrests were the first against suspected ivory smugglers in Benin, said local police spokesman Adrien Tchomakou. "These people have been brought before the state prosecutor and received a committal order (for trial) on Thursday," he added. Trade in ivory was banned in 1989 under the Convention on...

PRETORIA - South Africa plans to evacuate hundreds of rhinos from the famed Kruger National Park to safe havens beyond horn smugglers' reach, the environment minister announced Tuesday. Credit: Getty Editorial "A decision has been made on this issue of translocation," Edna Molewa said, announcing an action plan to curb escalating illegal hunts for rhino horn. "Relocations from the Kruger National Park and the creation of rhino strongholds could allow the total rhino population size of South Africa to continue to grow," she said. The authorities "could relocate up to 500" rhinos, which can weigh a tonne or more, said South African National Parks ecologist Sam Ferreira. Illegal rhino...