In Thailand, the endangered status of crocodiles and elephants is largely ignored by the public, who are instead enthralled with the giant pandas and their cub on loan from China. (There is even a 24-hour cable TV "panda channel.") At several of the country's zoos, officials now regularly paint their crocodiles and elephants in panda colors (with harmlessly washable paint) to call attention to their plight. Even though the paint must be reapplied daily, "It's impossible not to do it now," said one croc handler for a December Wall Street Journal dispatch. "People expect it."
Only four days after the January earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, two Royal Caribbean cruise ships made a port call at a private enclave about 60 miles up Haiti's coastline from ground zero, turning loose hundreds of frolickers for "jet ski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks," according to a report in London's The Guardian. Haitian guards employed by the cruise line manned the resort's 12-foot-high fences, but about a third of the passengers still declined to leave the ships, too upset by the unfolding disaster nearby to enjoy themselves. Royal Caribbean said it had made a large donation to the rescue effort and promised, also, to send proceeds from the port's thriving craft stores.
The Need for Parental Licensing: In January, as punishment for her 12-year-old son's bad grade in school, a Warm Springs, Ga., mother allegedly forced the boy to club his pet hamster to death with a hammer. Lynn Middlebrooks Geter, 38, was arrested after the kid told his teacher, who called the state children's services agency.