Odd stories

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Round-up of weird stories from around the world


Pianist Richard Clayderman has performed for an unusual audience at an equally unusual venue - endangered giant tortoises at a zoo.

The best-selling musician, who has been called “the prince of romance”, performed for the Galapagos tortoises at ZSL London Zoo in the build-up to Valentine’s Day.

French star Clayderman, who is staging a recording comeback after more than a decade, played at the tortoise enclosure in a bid to spark romance between Dirk - who is thought to be more than 70 - and his younger female companions Dolly, Priscilla and Polly, all 17, and 13-year-old Dolores.


A carton of milk would set a family back by £10 and a roast chicken would have a £51 price tag if food costs had risen in line with house price increases over the last 40 years, research by Shelter has found.

The charity said that the typical value of a house had increased by just over 43 times since 1971, from £5,632 to £245,319.

If a family’s weekly shop had increased at the same rate, it would now stand at £453, which is six times the actual figure of around £75. Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said “the high cost of food was already a real concern for people”.


As many as 8% of drivers incorrectly think the motorway speed limit is 80mph, according to an AA/Populus survey.

This figure rises to 11% for over-65s, while 1% believe the motorway limit, which is 70mph, is only 60mph. While only 4% of women thought the limit was 80mph, as many as 9% of men incorrectly gave the higher figure when polled.

The survey of nearly 23,000 motorists also found that Scots and those living in north-east England were most likely to think 80mph was the right answer.


Minnesota officials are cancelling the state’s moose hunting season because of a sharp decline in the moose population.

Department of Natural Resources officials said their annual aerial survey to estimate the moose population was “extremely disappointing”, at about 2,760 animals. Minnesota’s moose population was estimated at a little over 4,200 in last winter’s survey, already down by half from 2006.

Scientists think warmer weather, parasites and disease are contributing factors.


Chinese authorities have ordered retailers to stop selling fireworks named Tokyo Big Bang because they could damage relations with Japan, which have been marred by a row over who owns tiny islands in the East China Sea.

Officials have passed on the message that “China is a peace-loving country and we should not do something damaging to the China-Japan friendship,” said a manager at the Beijing Doudou Fireworks Company.

He said the popular fireworks were so named because “we thought if they’re related to politics and trendy they could sell well. It’s also because we’re patriotic”. Fireworks are a major part of festivities marking the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Sunday.


Workers using a tower crane to build a 304-unit apartment complex in a US city have run into a complication: two raccoons climbed 150 feet up the crane and made a home behind the crane’s cab.

The raccoons have temporarily brought the giant machine to a halt, KING-TV reports.

A crane operator spotted the new residents while climbing the tower in Seattle. The contractor, Rafn Company, called in experts who were trying to catch the animals with humane traps.