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Funny old world

By AFP - Sep 12,2021 - Last updated at Sep 12,2021

PARIS — From fowl impersonators to telephone swallowers and a shop owner who ran away with a winning scratch card. Your weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world.

What the duck!

Science was rocked this week by news that ducks can talk. What is more, they are quacking impersonators.

Even biologist Carel ten Cate who made the discovery said he found it “hard to believe” that Australian musk ducks can parrot human speech. 

But studying recordings of a duck called “Ripper” muttering not just “You bloody fool” but reproducing the sound of a door shutting, left little room for doubt.

Like Donald Duck, the world’s most famously loquacious drake, however, the Ripper’s speech wasn’t perfect.

Instead of fool, he said “You bloody foo”, the “l” apparently being hard for ducks to articulate.

Their uncanny vocal skills are mostly used for assailing other ducks with fowl-mouthed insults or for mating displays to attract the opposite sex.

Upside down rhinos

Nobel prizes have been won for less. And certainly Ig Nobel ones, the annual alternative award for wacky or unusual research.

This year’s winners include a study on how orgasms can help with nasal decongestion and why it is best to transport rhinos upside down. 

Hard to swallow

Surgeons in Kosovo removed a mobile phone from the stomach of a 33-year-old prisoner four days after he swallowed it to hide it from prison guards.

Skender Telaku told AFP he used an endoscopy to take the phone apart inside the man’s stomach without cutting him open. 

“It was the battery that concerned us the most... the corrosive acid could have leaked,” he added.

Luckily the phone did not ring or vibrate during the delicate procedure.

“It was like walking in a minefield but luckily everything went smoothly,” Dr Telaku added.

Triumph of the swill

Spare a thought for what those valiant Aussies who took part in the Beer Can Regatta in Darwin, Australia’s outback capital.

To make one of their quirky amphibious craft from thousands of recycled “tinnies”, competitors had to empty them first, a process that involved drinking all the beer to avoid waste. 

What a ticket

Their selflessness pales in comparison to the Naples tobacconist who scampered with his elderly customer’s 500,000-euro lottery scratch card when she called to claim her winnings. 

Having fled the city he planned to deposit the card in a bank and wait till the fuss died down.

But his luck ran out when detectives arrested him at Rome’s Fiumicino airport trying to board a plane to the Canary Islands.

Although he denies stealing the scratch card — and is making an official complaint against his 70-year-old customer — his tobacconist licence has been suspended.

Mutter dearest

This week police discovered an Austrian man had embalmed his dead mother and had kept her in the cellar for a year so he could claim her pension.

The Tyrolian first froze his 89-year-old mother and then wrapped her cat litter and bandages to mummify her, investigators found.

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