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WebClawer: Hero parrot wins award, Belfast Zoo searches for elephant savior, U.K. pig may be the real-life 'Babe'

March 24, 2009 |  2:22 pm

Heroic parrot Willie From parrots to pigs, from kangaroos to elephants, animals are making news all over the world today:

-- A Quaker parrot named Willie has been given the Denver Red Cross chapter's Animal Lifesaver Award for alerting his owner to a little girl's choking emergency.  Last November, Megan Howard, Willie's owner, was babysitting a toddler named Hannah.  Howard briefly left the room just before Hannah began to choke while eating her breakfast.  Willie shouted "Mama, baby!" repeatedly and flapped his wings; Howard returned to find Hannah turning blue and successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver on the little girl.  (Associated Press)

-- During the "Belfast Blitz" of 1941, the Ministry of Public Security decreed that some animals at the Belfast Zoo -- among them a tiger, a black bear, a lynx, a hyena, two polar bears and six wolves -- be killed for fear that a blast could allow them to escape and attack the city's residents.  One of the lucky survivors was a baby elephant named Sheila, who instead was evacuated to a nearby backyard.  The zoo, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, has now embarked on an effort to find the rescuer, who has never been identified and is known only as "the elephant angel."  "The care provided by our mystery lady is unique to zoo history and we would like to make contact with her family and properly document this gap in our past," said zoo manager Mark Challis.  Sheila survived World War II and was moved back into the zoo after its end, where she lived another twenty-plus years before dying of a skin complaint in the 1960s.  (Telegraph)

-- A 6-month-old Kunekune pig named Sue (a male named after the Shel Silverstein song "A Boy Named Sue," famously covered by Johnny Cash) may be the real-world equivalent to the character Babe.  Sue, who lives on the Herefordshire farm of owner Wendy Scudamore, saw Scudamore's daughter teaching her dogs to navigate agility obstacles and began copying them when he realized they were receiving treats for their efforts.  "Pigs are very intelligent and I would say Sue is easily as clever as a dog," Scudamore said.  "I'm going to enter Sue in this summer's Royal Welsh Show in the dog agility event."  Sue has also shown interest in the sheep that live on the farm with him.  "If he saw a dog herding the sheep I'm sure Sue could learn to do it," Scudamore added.  (Daily Mail)

-- An Australian theme park in southern France is missing some of its kangaroos after vandals set them loose.  "When we arrived on Saturday morning, five pens had been broken open, their padlocks were smashed and the perimeter fence was torn in several places,'' said Carole Masson, the park's owner. "We had 15 missing kangaroos -- it was complete panic."  Police and firefighters were dispatched to find the kangaroos, and most of them have been recovered -- but three are still on the loose.  A warning was issued to local drivers for fear the kangaroos might cause calamity by straying onto the highway.  (The Australian)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Heroic parrot Willie.  Credit: Associated Press / CBS4Denver.com

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