Posts tagged with "United Kingdom"

Have you seen Darius? Giant celebrity rabbit is missing

April 26, 2021

If police in Worcestershire, England, could “pull a rabbit out a hat,” they would: Darius—rabbit with long floppy ears who measures a record-breaking 4 feet long—has gone missing. He last was seen in his rabbit hutch in on the property of owner, breeder, and bunny aficionado, Annette Edwards.

Police said they were hunting one of the world’s largest rabbits, if not the largest, which went missing  on the night of April 10, NBC News reports.

“We are appealing for information following the theft of an award-winning rabbit from its home in Stoulton, Worcestershire,” West Mercia Police said in statement on Monday, April 12. “The rabbit is quite unique in the fact it is four feet in size.”

Darius, who became a 2010 Guinness world record holder for his huge length, was stolen from a garden enclosure in central England.

His owner, Annette Edwards, wrote on Twitter that police were working hard to find her prize-winning pet—and that she had offered a reward of £1,000 (US$1,400) for his safe return.

“A very sad day,” she said. “Darius is too old to breed now. So please bring him back.”

Edwards in an interview with the TODAY show in 2010 said her massive pet—a Continental Giant rabbit—was friendly, had a huge appetite, and enjoyed lazing around on furniture.

The pair used to tour the country together with owner Edwards donning a Jessica Rabbit style outfit to show off gigantic Darius.

At the time, she said the celebrity bunny was insured for $1.6 million, had an agent, and traveled with a bodyguard.

Darius’ disappearance comes amid a spike in pet theft in England during the coronavirus pandemic. The charity DogLost said it saw reports of thefts rise by 170% in the last year—from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020.

Pet detective Jacob Lloyd, head of investigations at Animal Protection Services, which prosecutes US1,000) to £3,500 (US$5,000) in the last year.

“It’s completely disproportionate to what we would normally see,” Lloyd said. “Opportunists and organized criminals have taken advantage in the rise of prices, and dog and other animal thefts have gone up.”

With people in England locked down for much of the year, Lloyd said the need for “companionship” while spending more time at home had led to the surge in demand.

In Darius’ high-profile case, a potential “ulterior motive” could also be at stake, pet detective Lloyd added—likely the work of organized criminals who knew his value.

The U.K.’s Policing Minister Kit Malthouse called animal theft a “vile crime,” in a statement earlier this year. “Let me be clear — pet theft is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment and it must be confronted wherever it occurs,” he added.

Singer Lady Gaga’s two pet dogs, Koji and Gustav, made global headlines when they were briefly stolen and returned in February, amid her public pleas and a $500,000 reward. Her French bulldogs were taken in a violent robbery in Hollywood, in which the singer’s 30-year-old dog walker was shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Research contact: @NBCNews

The next season of ‘Great British Bake Off’ will be totally star-studded

February 2, 2021

Each season, Great British Bake Off introduces viewers to a group of amateur bakers who have made cookies, pies, breads, and other pastries for their friends and families—but only have dreamt of doing the same for the likes of master bakers Prue Leith, Mary Berry, and Paul Hollywood.

Most of the past 11 seasons feature ten shows, during which contestants each prepare three bakes—for a total of 30—working under pressure; but also cosseted by the smiles, hugs, and jokes of the judges and two jolly hosts. Audiences fall in love with the aspirational participants, the spectacularly baked—or botched—breads and pastries, and the personable presenters.

So viewers worldwide will be happy to learn that, even under pandemic conditions, the Great British Bake Off is determined to produce some special segments during 2021, Delish reports.

Instead of Brits of all ages, backgrounds, and baking proficiencies, the new season will feature The Great Celebrity Bake Off —and the winner will not go home with the money, but will donate it to benefit Stand Up To Cancer. To raise the funds and keep GBBOfans entertained, celebrities will be stepping into the famous tent to show off their baking skills—or lack thereof, perhaps.

This special edition of the show will be a five part series that is set to premiere in the United Kingdom this spring, according to Deadline.

The contestants will include actors, Olympians, X-Factor winners, and musicians. Star Wars Daisy Ridley and X-Men‘s James McAvoy are on the list, as are Little Mix‘s Jade Thirlwall. Other names include Dame Kelly Holmes, John Bishop, Stacey Dooley, Tom Allen, David Baddiel, YouTuber KSI, Ade Adepitan, Philippa Perry, Nick Grimshaw, Rob Beckett, Alexandra Burke, Anneka Rice, Reece Shearsmith, Dizzee Rascal, Anne-Marie, Nadine Coyle, and Katherine Ryan. Phew.

Fans  will notice the absence of host Noel Fielding this time around. Digital Spy has reported that just as Noel skipped out on the Christmas special to spend time at home with his daughter (who was born in October), he’ll be doing the same this time around. No worries, we all still willl have Matt Lucas, Prue Leith, and Paul Hollywood gracing our screens. Praise be.

In the States, the show will air weekly on Netflix this spring. No more specific date has been offered yet.

Research contact: @DelishDotCom

We’re not pulling your leg: Marathon running may be good for your knees

December 18, 2019

It’s counter-intuitive, but a team of researchers from the United Kingdom and Switzerland has established that marathon training and racing actually may be good for our knees, The New York Times reports.

myth-toppling new study of novice, midlife runners suggests that taking up distance running rebuilds the health of certain essential components of middle-aged knees, even if the joints start off somewhat tattered and worn.

But the results also contain a caution: Marathon mileage could erode one vulnerable area within the knee, the study finds, if runners are not careful.

According to the Times’ report, we shouldn’t be so surprised by the news. Most past experiments have found that running generally is not harmful for healthy knees. In one much-cited study, elderly runners developed knee arthritis at lower rates than sedentary people. And in another, more recent study, young people’s knees grew less inflamed after a run than after a long stretch of sitting.

 

But most of this science has focused on whether running actively harms knees—not whether it might somehow refurbish and spiff up joints beginning to show signs of wear and tear.

That question became personal in 2012 for Dr. Alister Hart, an orthopedic surgeon and research professor at University College London and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in the United Kingdom, who oversaw the new study. That year, he says, he ran his first marathon.

 “For two weeks afterward, I needed a handrail to do stairs,” he says. “My quads were agony. My hip- and knee-replacement colleagues told me that I was mad.”

He, too, was a bit concerned about his knees—and decided that it would be a service to all runners to look closely at what marathon training might be doing to those joints. So, for the new study, which was published in October in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, he and his research associate Laura Maria Horga and other colleagues turned to the entry rolls of an upcoming London Marathon.

There, they identified and contacted middle-aged entrants who had listed themselves as first-time marathon runners. They wound up with more than 80 novice racers, most in their mid-40s and few of whom had run or exercised much in the past, the Times notes.

The researchers asked these men and women about their knees. At this point, the marathon was still six months distant, and their joints were those of middle-aged adults and not yet those of runners. All of the soon-to-be marathoners responded that the joints were in good shape, with no creaks or pains.

The researchers then gathered the volunteers at a university facility and scanned everyone’s knees, using a sophisticated, high-resolution type of M.R.I. that reveals even minor damage in the joint’s tissues.

A few months later, the men and women began the same, four-month marathon-training program. Eventually, 71 of them finished the race, in an average time of 5 hours and 20 minutes. Two weeks later, they returned to the lab to have their knees re-scanned.

The scientists then compared their hundreds of before-and-after scans and turned up some surprises. For one, while the participants had reported at the start of the study that their knees felt fine, many, in fact, harbored damage. About half of the pre-training knees contained frayed or torn cartilage, and others showed lesions in the joint’s bone marrow. Similar patterns of tears and lesions can signal incipient bone erosion and arthritis, the researchers knew.

The post-race scans held other, new and unexpected results. “I expected to see additional damage” in runners’ knees, Dr. Hart said.

Instead, many of the existing bone-marrow lesions had shrunk, as had some of the damage in the runners’ cartilage. At the same time, some racers had developed new tears and strains in the cartilage and other tissues at the front of their knees, around the kneecap, a part of the joint known to be stressed during running. That area also, though, tends to be less prone to arthritis than other portions of the knee.

Over all, “the main weight-bearing knee compartments showed beneficial effects from the marathon,” says Dr. Horga, meaning that, in general, the knees were healthier.

Just how running remade the marathoners’ knees remains uncertain, she says, but it most likely involved strengthening of the muscles surrounding the joint, helping to stabilize it and reduce or even reverse tissue damage there. Meanwhile, the unfamiliar pounding of the running focused large forces on the kneecap area, overtaxing it.

Of course, this study was short-term and focused on middle-aged marathon newcomers with no history of knee problems. Whether running would be constructive for the knees of older runners or people whose joints ache is not certain.

In addition, the scientists do not know if changes in knee health linger or what the effects are on other joints, such as the hips. They are planning a six-month follow-up study of their participants’ knees and a study of hips to help answer those questions, the Times reports.. The results will be posted at their website, runningforscience.org.

Research contact: @nytimes