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Call of the wild

Los Angeles, Dec. 20 (Reuters): Customs officials opened his suitcase and a bird of paradise flew out but that was nothing compared to what they found in his pants — a pair of pygmy monkeys.

Californian Robert Cusack has been sentenced to 57 days in jail for trying to smuggle the monkeys, four exotic birds and 50 rare orchids through Los Angeles airport after a trip to Thailand, officials said yesterday.

Assistant US attorney Joseph Johns said Cusack had been undergoing a routine inspection when he arrived last June until an official opened his suitcase. “It became non-routine when they opened his luggage and a bird of paradise took off flying in the terminal,” Johns said.

Johns said the agents found three more birds in his bag, tucked into nylon stockings, along with 50 orchids of a threatened species. Asked if he had anything else to tell them, Cusack said: “Yes, I’ve got monkeys in my pants.”

Photo finish

Vienna (Reuters): Two men stole a digital camera from a Vienna photo shop, but in their haste to flee the crime scene forgot to take their holiday photos with them. The pair entered the shop to pick up their holiday pictures, but seized the opportunity to acquire an expensive camera. While one man distracted the salesperson, the other pocketed the loot. “The men ran but left their pictures behind, which made it easy for the victim to identify the suspects,” an investigator said.

Beer gloom

Berlin (Reuters): German drinkers could be about to face their worst nightmare — a beer shortage. The potential trickle in the supply of the nation’s favourite tipple is due to new government rules to curb the use of disposable cans and bottles which take effect in January. Retailers say it may mean there may not be enough beer in shops. “We may not have enough beer available to meet the demand in January,” Jan Holzweissig, spokesman for the German retailers’ association, said. “Stores are planning to remove beer and other drinks in disposable containers.”

Clone boom

Montreal (Reuters): A Canadian cult that believes in free love and that life on earth was created by extraterrestrials said it could deliver the world’s first cloned baby on Christmas Day. But the announcement by the Quebec-based Raelians sect was greeted with anger and scepticism from experts in the field. “I am disgusted,” said Arthur Leader, chief of reproductive medicine at the Ottawa Hospital. Brigitte Boisselier, a bishop in the sect, said their firm, Clonaid, cloned a human embryo last March and a baby girl is expected to be delivered on Christmas Day. She said 10 human embryos were cloned last spring, with five miscarrying. The four other cloned babies are expected next year.

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