ORLANDO, Fla. — A Louisiana tourist complained he paid $15,000 for a Disney World vacation that was disrupted when he was arrested after he refused to get his temperature checked at Disney Springs, according to video footage released this week by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Kelly Sills, 47, of Baton Rouge, pleaded not guilty on a charge of trespassing following the Feb. 13 incident. Authorities confronted him outside The Boathouse restaurant after Sills skipped the temperature screening tent, refused to go back, and wouldn’t leave the property when asked by Disney and the sheriff’s off...
Twenty-four out of 80 hippopotamuses roaming on the former ranch of the late Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar were sterilized due to the "uncontrolled" spreading of this "invasive" species, authorities said on Friday.
Before he was shot dead by police in 1993, the notorious Escobar had purchased a number of exotic animals to live on his ranch, including flamingos, giraffes, zebras and kangaroos.
After his death, all but the hippopotamuses were sold to zoos.
Escobar originally acquired a single male and female hippos.
They were left to roam on his Hacienda Napoles estate, which has since been converted into a theme park, as they were considered to large to try to move, but since then their numbers have multiplied.
The hippos were shot with darts to inject them with a medicine called GonaCon, according to a bulletin by Cornare, a regional environmental protection organization in the northwest of Colombia.
"It's a contraceptive that is effective in males and females" and cheaper than surgical sterilization, said Cornare.
"However, it's complicated because experts suggest giving three doses."
Another 11 hippos were previously sterilized by more traditional means.
Experts believe this to be the largest herd of hippopotamuses outside of Africa and it has led to problems.
"The presence of these animals in an ecosystem that is not their own, brings consequences such as the displacement of local fauna," said David Echeverri, a Cornare expert quoted in the bulletin.
The hippos are also responsible for "changing ecosystems" and attacks on local fishermen.
Escobar became one of the richest men on the planet, according to Forbes, thanks to the drug trafficking empire he built.
Almost 30 years since his death, Colombia remains the largest producer of cocaine in the world, much of it smuggled to the United States.
© 2021 AFP
New Zealand is losing its official wizard. Nearly 40 years after the city of Christchurch begged their wizard to stay, the council has told the charismatic sorcerer he has to go.
The 88-year-old wizard, also known as Ian Brackenbury Channell, has been a popular tourist attraction for more than three decades, addressing crowds in the city centre, with his flowing beard, straggly hair and wearing a long, black robe and pointy hat.
Nothing was off-limits for the modern-day Merlin, from castigating politicians to successfully leading a campaign to stop "an attack on the soul of the city" when it was announced the red public phone booths would be repainted blue.
He has been in demand casting spells to influence the outcome of events such as crucial rugby matches and being transported to Australia to perform a rain dance.
"It is a difficult decision to end this contract," the Christchurch City Council assistant chief executive Lynn McClelland said.
"The council is grateful for the valuable and special contribution The Wizard made to our city's cultural life, and he will forever be a part of our history."
But McClelland said wizardry no longer fits the "promotional landscape" of the South Island's largest city, and new programmes "will increasingly reflect our diverse communities and showcase a vibrant, diverse, modern city."
British-born Channell, a former airman with the Royal Air Force and a graduate from the University of Leeds with a double honours degree in psychology and sociology, arrived in Christchurch in 1974.
The council's first reaction when he began his public speaking was to try to have him arrested, but he proved so popular that 10 years later, when he threatened to leave after a spell backfired at a rugby match, the council campaigned for him to stay.
"This was a welcome change of attitude by the city council after years of ill-concealed hostility," Channell said.
The council appointed him "Wizard of Christchurch", the New Zealand Art Gallery Directors Association made him "an authentic living work of art", and in 1990, prime minister Mike Moore named him the official "Wizard of New Zealand".
Since 1998, the wizard has been paid NZ$16,000 ($11,300) annually by the council "to provide acts of wizardry and other wizard-like-services", and he said he was not happy about being sidelined.
"They are a bunch of bureaucrats who have no imagination," he told the Stuff news website.
"They are not thinking of ways to promote Christchurch overseas."
"They are not making use of my worldwide fame. I am disappointed they haven't made use of The Wizard as part of the promotion of Christchurch.
"I don't like being cancelled."
© 2021 AFP
Three people were killed Saturday when an earthquake struck the Indonesian tourist island Bali, the disaster agency said.
The 4.8 magnitude quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres (six miles) northeast of the town of Banjar Wanasari. Shallow quakes tend to do more damage than deep tremors.
Two people died when the quake triggered a landslide that buried their house in Bangli regency while another person was killed in the port town of Karangasem, officials said.
The death toll was not expected to rise, they added.
"The quake was felt strongly for five seconds," said disaster agency spokesman Abdul Muhari.
"People were panicking and ran from their houses when the quake hit."
The tremor's epicentre was far from the main tourist hub in Bali, which is slowly reopening to international visitors after a pandemic shutdown.
Indonesia experiences frequent quakes due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an arc of intense seismic activity where tectonic plates collide that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
In January, more than 100 people were killed and thousands left homeless by a 6.2-magnitude quake that struck Sulawesi island, reducing buildings to a tangled mass of twisted metal and chunks of concrete in the seaside city of Mamuju.
A 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu three years ago left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.
© 2021 AFP
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