Pumas raised in apartment
A woman says she has been raising three pumas in her three-room apartment after fearing for their lives at the local zoo. Rasa Veliute, a 23-year-old volunteer at the zoo in Klaipeda, a Baltic Sea port town, says she took the cubs home four months ago after their mother began neglecting them. The pumas — also known as mountain lions or cougars — are named Kipsas, Gipse and Kinde. Veliute says they eat a lot of chicken and get along well with her East European shepherd dog. There is no law barring keeping the animals at home, and the zoo did not object to Veliute’s actions, but Veliute told reporters on Friday that the pumas have grown fast and will likely return to the zoo this summer.
Large ship tunnel planned
The government announced plans on Friday for what is being labeled the world’s first tunnel for large ships, aimed at helping them navigate a treacherous section of the southwestern coast. Unveiling a 10-year transportation plan, the government said it would earmark 1 billion kroner (US$175 million) for the construction of the Stad maritime tunnel, named for the peninsula notorious for high winds and heavy seas. The 1.7km passageway will be carved into a piece of the peninsula’s mountainside, linking two fjords, hallmarks of the Norwegian coastline. “The project will help increase safety and navigability” in the region, the government said. Estimated at a cost of 1.6 billion kroner, construction is expected to begin in 2018 at the earliest and take four years.
Columbus goes Abe
Ohio is being transformed into the Land of Lincoln this weekend. About three dozen Abraham Lincoln impersonators from around the US are meeting in Columbus for their 19th annual convention. The get-together will also feature some Mary Todd Lincolns. On Friday night, they were due to gather for a local high school production of Our American Cousin, the play Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington in April 1865. These are good times for tall, gangly, bearded men who get hired to portray Honest Abe at schools and various events. They say the Steven Spielberg movie Lincoln has increased demand for their services.
Leading ballerina dies
One of America’s finest ballerinas and the muse and wife of legendary choreographer George Balanchine has died, aged 88. Maria Tallchief died on Thursday in Chicago, where she had founded the short-lived Chicago City Ballet, her family announced. She had previously been the dazzling prima ballerina with the New York City Ballet from 1948 to 1965, working with Balanchine, who was also briefly her husband. “My mother was a ballet legend, who was proud of her Osage heritage,” daughter Elise Paschen said in a statement, referring to Tallchief’s Native American background. Born in 1925 to a father from the Osage tribe and a mother of Irish-Scottish descent, Tallchief was one of the first Native American ballerinas to achieve such prominence with major companies. Her pride in her heritage led her to refuse pressure common at the time to change her name to a more marketable, Russian-sounding version — for example turning Tallchief into Tallchieva.