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Masters Golfer to Donate Winnings to Disaster Relief in Japan


Whether or not Ryo Ishikawa takes home the top prize at the Masters golf tournament, he is already a hero in his homeland of Japan.

The 19-year-old pro has decided to donate all of his 2011 earnings to disaster relief in Japan. The golfer has also offered 100,000 yen (about $1,200) for every birdie he makes.

Ishikawa has been on tour since the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan last month, killing more than 12,000 people. But he wants his countrymen to know that he has not forgotten them.

"That's one of the reasons why I decided to donate the entire earnings this year," Ishikawa told the Los Angeles Times Monday, "so that I feel that I am with them and fighting with them side by side, although I will not be with them physically."

Schoolboy raises £85,000 for Haiti

Charlie Simpson on the bike he rode to raise money for Unicef's Haiti appealA seven-year-old boy has raised more than £85,000 by completing a sponsored bike ride to help victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Charlie Simpson burst into tears when he first saw TV footage of children being pulled from the rubble, and asked his mother Leonara how he could help.

He chose to cycle five miles around his local park in Fulham, west London, with the aim of raising £500 for Unicef's Haiti appeal, but smashed the target by more than 15,000% after internet users rallied behind him.

As word spread, Charlie's online sponsorship page gained more than £50,000 in donations on the very first day, rising to more than £85,000 on Monday.

He said: "I just think it was quite sad when I saw the pictures on the TV."

"We sent [the sponsorship form] out on to the web and it just went everywhere."

Mrs Simpson said: "He was really upset when he saw the pictures on the television and it was great to see him get motivated behind something as important as this and do something about it.

"He just sat on my lap, then we had about a chat about the things he could do, and how he could go about it. He decided to do the cycle ride and he made me do a sponsorship form for him and that was it. It suddenly took off."

Unicef will get all the money from his page, including more than £20,000 in 'Gift Aid' tax relief to use for emergency water, sanitation, education and nutrition as well as supporting child protection in Haiti.

SIDEWAYS News for fresh perspectives

Hannah the Hippo Gets a New Pool

When a pygmy hippopotamus was rescued from the dry back yard of a California doctor, staffers at The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center were told the rare animal likely wouldn’t survive.

Hannah P. Motamus was found with adequate food and drinking water, but without the habitat—namely shade and a deep swimming pool—needed to sustain the water creature. Rejecting veterinarians’ claims she would have to be euthanized due to the severity of her dry, cracked skin, caregivers at the Ramona, Calif. rehabilitation facility fought for her life, rejuvenating her skin to a supple gray and building a mud pond in which she could finally bask.

Water, Water Everywhere

The relatively shallow pond, however, was only temporary, for staffers knew Hannah would be happiest submerged underwater. And on Tuesday, after several hot hours spent corralling the stubborn hippo into her brand new, 13,000-square foot enclosure—complete with a mud pond, shade trees and a 25-foot long, 3 ½-foot deep pool—Hannah showed everyone just how happy a hippo can get.

“She stepped in and immediately went down, deeper and deeper, and then—for the first time in her life—she disappeared underwater,” said Chuck Traisi, center manager. As a crowd of caregivers looked on, Hannah continued her disappearing act, wading from the shallow end to the deepest spot and then floating back up again.

“She put on a show. She kept rolling with her pink belly visible like a water ballerina. All of us swore she had a smile on her face,” Traisi said, adding that everyone around her had tears of joy rolling down theirs.

Hippos Don't Belong in Backyards

Pygmy hippos are rare creatures—and are even more rarely kept as pets. But Hannah’s case exemplifies the problems inherent in the exotic pet trade: People keeping wild animals as pets with little to no knowledge about their care needs, or about their temperament.

The property from which Hannah was confiscated had an extremely small enclosure, no shade whatsoever and no pond or any other water source within which she could even place one foot, Traisi said.

“Animals like this shouldn’t be private individuals’ pets. Their care is too demanding and they can be dangerous,” said Richard Farinato, senior director of animal care centers for The Humane Society of the United States, which operates the wildlife center in partnership with The Fund for Animals.

A loner by nature, the nocturnal pygmy hippo spends a majority of their time in water, which is where they do most of their sleeping and breeding, Farinato said. At night, the hippos graze and feed. Her new enclosure is as close to home as she can get: Since Hannah was raised in captivity she cannot be released back to the wild and must remain in sanctuary.

And sanctuary is exactly what Hannah has now.

In Her Element At Last

At dusk on Wednesday, Traisi said he looked over at Hannah’s enclosure and didn’t see her, which was odd since she normally begins feeding at that time. Concerned, Traisi walked into her new home, and looked for her under the shade of her new favorite tree, where she had been seen napping earlier. He planned to wake her up, and let her know her dinner had been served, but Hannah wasn’t there.

“I knew she wasn’t in the pool because there were no ripples,” he said. “And then suddenly, from the middle of the pool, her big gray head emerged and was looking at me. As I watched, she rested her head on the edge of the pool and just stared at me. It was so clear that she was so thoroughly enjoying herself.”

Traisi said he is thankful for the donors who fund projects to build and enhance animal habitats like Hannah’s new home, one of the many ongoing renovations supported by donors.

“From whatever source this money came--whoever was responsible for generating it--I thank them on behalf of a very lovely hippopotamus.”

Thai ‘spider-man’ rescues autistic boy

BANGKOK (AFP) A Thai fireman turned superhero when he dressed up as comic-book character Spider-Man to coax a frightened eight-year-old from a balcony, police said Tuesday.

Spiderman Fireman
Teachers at a special needs school in Bangkok alerted authorities on Monday when an autistic pupil, scared of attending his first day at school, sat out on the third-floor ledge and refused to come inside, a police sergeant told AFP.

Despite teachers' efforts to beckon the boy inside, he refused to budge until his mother mentioned her son's love of superheroes, prompting fireman Sonchai Yoosabai to take a novel approach to the problem.

The rescuer dashed back to his fire station and made a quick change into a Spider-Man costume before returning to the boy, he said.

"I told him Spider-Man is here to rescue you, no monsters are going to attack you and I told him to walk slowly towards me as running could be dangerous," Somchai told local television.

The young boy immediately stood up and walked into his rescuer's arms, police said.

Somchai said he keeps the Spider-Man costume and an outfit of Japanese television character Ultraman at the station in order to liven up school fire drills.

Hero dog risks life to save kittens from fire

Leo the TerrierSYDNEY (Reuters) – A dog was hailed as a hero on Sunday after it risked its life to save a litter of newborn kittens from a house fire, rescuers said.

In a case which gives the lie to the saying about 'fighting like cats and dogs', the terrier cross named Leo had to be revived with oxygen and heart massage after his ordeal. Fire broke out overnight at the house in Australia's southern city of Melbourne, where he was guarding the kittens.

Fire fighters who revived Leo said he refused to leave the building and was found by them alongside the litter of kittens, despite thick smoke.

"Leo wouldn't leave the kittens and it nearly cost him his life," fire service Commander Ken Brown told reporters.

The four kittens also survived the fire and Sunday Leo, who fire fighters nicknamed 'Smoky', was again back at the house.

(Editing by David Fox)

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