Iran. Despite the disapproval of theologian leaders, affluent Iranian families are starting to welcome cats and dogs into their homes. The significant increase in recent pet ownership follows an increase in availability of pet food at grocery stores and a threefold increase in animal clinics and hospitals during the last three years. Social observers believe this trend reflects a deterrence from large families and an anticipation of a poor economy from recent international sanctions on Iran. “Islam teaches us to respect animals, but these days people regard pets as equal to their children in their home. This is not correct,” Hasan Rashidizadeh, director of the Jafarieh seminary in Tehran, said.
Los Angeles Times
Italy. A baby boy, Pablo, was the first child born in the small Italian town of Ostana in 28 years. Ostana’s population has plummeted in the past 100 years, with 85 reported inhabitants, and only half are permanent residents. Pablo’s parents, Silvia and Jose, decided to stay in Ostana to work as mountain range managers. According to Italian newspaper La Stampa, the town is throwing a party for Pablo, and a model stork stands holding a blue bundle at the town’s entrance.
Sweden. The city of Lausanne has banned silent discos, in which attendees play music through individual headphones, for being too noisy. Several complaints from nearby residents state that the discos are not actually as quiet as advertised — the participants tend to sing along to the music they are listening to.The disco organizers typically host the events on rooftop terraces in the Flon area of the city. “The noise caused by the clientele is not negligible,” Florence Nicollier, head of the silent disco licensing department, said. Currently, the department’s decision to ban silent discos cannot be appealed.
Tanzania. A white giraffe named Omo has survived its first year of life — a task only 50 percent of wild calves achieve. In their first year, giraffes are small enough for lions, leopards and hyenas to prey on. Omo was at an even greater disadvantage because she suffers from a condition called leucism, which gives her a white appearance and makes her an easy target for poachers. According to Dr. Derek Lee, the ecologist that first found Omo, her brown-colored peers accepted her into the herd. Omo is still not completely safe, as giraffes are still an endangered species. The Wild Nature Institute calculates that giraffes are more endangered than elephants, but hopes that Omo’s media popularity will help raise global awareness for giraffes.