From fit to fat ... Trainer piles on the pounds 'to identify with his overweight clients'

A fitness trainer and former model has swapped his six-pack for a paunch - in a bid to understand his overweight gym clients.

Paul 'PJ' James, whose buff body once graced the Milan catwalk, is now halfway to reaching his goal of weighing 20st following a bizarre New Year's resolution.

Having started from a healthy 12 and a half stone, he has already reached 15 and a half stone.

'I was finding it difficult to relate to my overweight gym members so I have decided to crank up my weight to experience life as an overweight person,' said the 32-year-old, who trains at a gym in Melbourne.

After an inaugural meal of four doner kebabs, the Australian trainer has stopped his daily routine of exercise and is fattening himself up on a carbohydrate-heavy diet which includes pasta, cream sauces and chocolate.

The former teetotaler now drinks a couple of beers every night to help gain weight.

He hopes to hit 20st by the end of March.

He then aims to spend the following three months at the same weight, to show overweight people that it can be done.

Finally, he plans to resume exercise so that he will be back to his former trim self by October.

'I have always been telling my clients who have come through the gym's doors that weight loss shouldn't be difficult, but it has reached the point where I can't relate and by doing this it should make me a better personal trainer,' he said.

Doctors in this country though have pointed out the dangers of such rapid weight gain and loss.

'Weight gain of this kind could cause Mr James to get visceral fat around his organs such as his heart and liver, increasing the dangers of diabetes and high blood pressure,' says Dr Matt Capehorn of the National Obesity Forum.

'Also, he could find his skin stretching when he loses his weight, which often happens in cases such as this.'

A physician is conducting weekly checks to monitor James's health during the stunt.

World record as British angler lands 55-stone stingray that's FIVE TIMES his weight

It took 90 minutes to land, 13 men to heave it out of the water... and weighed 55 stone when they finally got it to the scales.

So it's little wonder that when Ian Welch first hooked the record stingray, it almost pulled him into the river.

Mr Welch, who weighs 111/2 stone, said: 'It dragged me across the boat and would have pulled me in, had my colleague not grabbed my trousers.'

The angler, from Aldershot, Hampshire, was fishing in Thailand when he landed the ray, which is the biggest freshwater fish to be caught with a rod.

The biologist was helping with a stingray tagging programme on the Maeklong River, when he hooked the fish.

'It buried itself on the bottom. I tried with every ounce of power but it just would not budge. After half an hour my arms began shaking and after an hour my legs went.
'Another 30 minutes went by and then I put a glove on and physically pulled the line with gritted teeth.'

Once the stingray was off the bottom, it was relatively easy to lift it 30ft to the surface, said Mr Welch, 45.

'As soon as we saw it there was just silence because everyone was just in awe of this thing.'

Eventually the group towed the ray to the bank, put it in a paddling pool, tagged it and took DNA, before releasing it.

The giant freshwater ray is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

This one, 7ft long and wide, with a tail of 10ft, had its venomous barb wrapped in cloth on the bank.

Mr Welch said: 'I was exhausted afterwards. I did very little for the rest of the day - and just had a cold beer

Can jumbo elephants really paint? Intrigued by stories, naturalist Desmond Morris set out to find the truth

Is it true that elephants are artists? Can they really paint pictures of flowers, trees and even other elephants? Are they the only animals on Earth, apart from human beings, that can create pictorial images?

Last summer my friend, the scientist Richard Dawkins, asked me to look at a video clip on the internet, taken in Thailand, that showed a young female elephant called Hong painting a picture of an elephant running along, holding a flower in its trunk. He wanted to know if I thought it was a fake.

The internet is notoriously awash with fakes of one kind or another, but this particular video appeared to be genuine. I could hardly believe my eyes as the elephant with a paintbrush inserted in the tip of its trunk started to place lines on a large white card.

Slowly, without anyone touching the animal's trunk, the image emerged. And it was an elegant image, too, something a human artist would not be ashamed of.

From time to time, the elephant's keeper, or mahout, took an empty brush and replaced it with a loaded one, but that was apparently the only form of human intervention.

I was amazed and puzzled by what I saw and decided that I really must find out more. Back in the Fifties I had myself made a serious study of the artistic abilities of chimpanzees, but they had never achieved anything like this.

My favourite chimp, called Congo, had shown remarkable abilities, creating favourite patterns of lines and then varying them from picture to picture. But all his paintings were abstract compositions. He never managed to produce a recognisable pictorial image. He had a creative ability because I never influenced the position of his lines and he himself made all the decisions about where each mark should go.

He balanced his patterns and, over a long period of time, he made them more complicated, showing he contained within his brain the first germ of artistic creativity.

It may have been primitive, but it was there. I was witnessing what amounted to the birth of art. If elephants could really paint flowers and trees, then they were, of course, in a different league.

But I had a nasty feeling there was a catch in it somewhere, so when I was visiting Thailand this year I decided to find out the truth. I knew that Hong was living at an elephant conservation centre up in the far north of the country and that I would not have time to reach it during my brief stay.

But inquiries revealed there are now at least six elephant centres in Thailand where painting is done. One of them, at Nong Nooch, was near enough for a brief visit.

These centres originally developed because, 20 years ago, logging by elephants was outlawed in Thailand and all the domesticated elephants suddenly found themselves out of work. Their future looked bleak and there was no hope of returning them to the wild.

Then someone had the bright idea of setting up elephant sanctuaries where the animals could be shown to visitors for a small fee. Out of this grew staged performances and, about eight years ago, the painting sessions.

The centre I was visiting, the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, is a large recreation park nine miles from the thriving seaside resort of Pattaya. In addition to its exotic tropical gardens and orchid nursery, it boasts an impressive theatre where Thai boxing and highly sophisticated local folklore shows are performed.

Next to this theatre there is a large, square arena for the daily elephant displays. These displays, it turned out, are far too reminiscent of old-fashioned circus acts, but they do differ in two important respects.

First, each animal has its own personal keeper, whose whole life is devoted to his particular elephant.

Second, much of the performance is designed to make the audience marvel at the skills of the elephants, rather than laugh at them as overgrown clowns.

As part of the elephant show, I was able to watch three young female elephants painting pictures of botanical subjects and see for myself exactly how it was done.

So are these endearing mammals truly artistic? The answer, as politicians are fond of saying, is yes and no.

Let me describe exactly what happens. A painting session begins with three heavy easels being wheeled into position. On each easel a large piece of white card (30in x 20in) has been fixed underneath a strong wooden frame.

Each elephant is positioned in front of her easel and is given a brush loaded with paint by her mahout. He pushes the brush gently into the end of her trunk.

The man then stands to one side of his animal's neck and watches intently as the brush starts to make lines on the card. Then the empty brush is replaced by another loaded one, and the painting continues until the picture is complete.

The elephant then turns towards its audience, bows deeply and is rewarded with bananas.

The paintings are then removed from their frames and offered for sale. They are quickly snapped up by people who have been astonished by what they have just witnessed.

To most of the members of the audience, what they have seen appears to be almost miraculous. Elephants must surely be almost human in intelligence if they can paint pictures of flowers and trees in this way. What the audience overlooks are the actions of the mahouts as their animals are at work.

This oversight is understandable because it is difficult to drag your eyes away from the brushes that are making the lines and spots. However, if you do so, you will notice that, with each mark, the mahout tugs at his elephant's ear.

He nudges it up and down to get the animal to make a vertical line, or pulls it sideways to get a horizontal one. To encourage spots and blobs he tugs the ear forward, towards the canvas. So, very sadly, the design the elephant is making is not hers but his. There is no elephantine invention, no creativity, just slavish copying.

Investigating further, after the show is over, it emerges that each of the socalled artistic animals always produces exactly the same image, time after time, day after day, and week after week. Mook always paints a bunch of flowers, Christmas always does a tree, and Pimtong a climbing plant. Each elephant works to a set routine, guided by her master.

TheCan inevitable conclusion, therefore, is that elephants are not artists. Unlike the chimpanzees, they do not explore new patterns or vary the design of their work themselves. Superficially, they do appear to be more advanced, but it is all a trick.

Having said this, what an amazingly clever trick it is! No human hand touches the animal's trunk. The brain of the elephant has to translate the tiny nudges she feels on her ear into attractive lines and blobs.

And she has to place these marks on the white surface with great precision. This requires considerable intelligence and a muscular sensitivity that is truly extraordinary.

So all is not lost. We can still marvel at the paintings these animals make, even if their skill is to do with muscle control rather than artistic ability.

Perhaps one day, a more scientific approach will be applied to elephant painting and one of these animals will be allowed to express itself spontaneously and perhaps start making new images of her own devising, and varying them at will. If that happens, we will have to think seriously about opening an elephant art gallery.

Although only three elephants at Nong Nooch paint pictures, there are 16 others there that perform other remarkable feats. To give just one example, two of them are able to rear up and throw a large dart through the air with breathtaking accuracy.

The dart is placed in the tip of the trunk, they then tilt their head right back, take slow and careful aim, and fling the dart at a distant archery target that is covered with balloons. The target is about 60ft away, and with its first shot, the elephant I was watching burst the balloon that was in the bull's eye position.

In the wild, no elephant is ever required to make a trunk movement of this kind, or with such accuracy, so what is being witnessed here is an impressive learning ability on the part of these enormous mammals.

And although playing darts is a human activity the elephants are mimicking, there is nothing demeaning in the act. It does not make the elephants look like clowns, but rather reveals to us their muscular brilliance and adaptability.

Unfortunately, not all the performances in the Nooch elephant show are demonstrations that increase our respect for elephants. An elephant riding a tricycle, for instance, may be clever, but it appears ridiculous.

Instead of looking magnificent, the animal looks silly. The organisers of Thai elephant shows do not seem to have caught up with the change in attitude towards performing animals that has swept through the western world in recent years.

As a zoologist, I have to admit that I deplore comic acts of this kind, acts that do little more than exploit the cooperative nature of these huge mammals. If they wished to do so, they could easily kill their mahouts with a single blow, but for some reason they seem content to play along and entertain their audiences. It is up to the designers of these shows, in the future, to become sensitive to the fine line between a vulgar circus act that demeans the animals, and a serious demonstration of skill and intelligence that increases our admiration for them.

With a little ingenuity, it should be possible to present a whole elephant show that does nothing but amplify the high regard that we now have for these extraordinary animals.

As I mentioned, one of the most remarkable aspects of elephant behaviour is just how helpful they are. And I am extremely grateful to them for their level of co-operation. Organisers of the Nong Nooch elephant show discovered that I was there to make a special study of them and asked if I would like to participate in the finale of the show.

I declined, but they insisted that I would not have to do anything, just lie on the ground and let one of the elephants give me a massage.

It crossed my mind that, if I did agree, here was a test in which, if anyone was going to look silly, it would be me rather than the elephant. And I would be helping to demonstrate to the audience just how restrained and delicate the giant animal could be. After all, a massage performed poorly by an elephant's foot could see me ending up in intensive care in a Thai hospital.

An Englishman abroad hates to look like a coward in such situations, so I allowed myself to be taken into the centre of the arena, where I was instructed to lie down on a piece of matting. A large cloth was draped over me to protect my clothing and out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the largest elephants approaching with what I swear was an eager gleam in her eye.

She proceeded to give me my massage, first with her trunk and then with one of her front feet.

I experienced what hospitals euphemistically call 'a certain amount of discomfort', because gentle as the elephant was, bless her, she was being encouraged by her mahout to overdo the massage in order to amuse the audience. It was at this point that I became acutely aware of the subtle distinction between hamming it up for circus laughs and the scientific demonstration of an elephant's true capacity to restrain itself from squashing a large Englishman beneath her foot.

Before I allow myself to get involved again, I think I will await the hopedfor evolution of these Thai elephant shows into a more scientifically controlled demonstration

This is not just a jam sandwich... Oh, actually, it is

It's hardly a dish that requires great culinary skill and hours of preparation in the kitchen.

Yet it seems that some of us lead such busy lives that we are simply unable to knock up a quick strawberry jam sandwich.

If that applies to you, then relax. Because Marks & Spencer is going to do it for you - and charge you 75p for the privilege.

In an age when even potato comes ready mashed, perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone started selling us something we could easily make ourselves in about a minute.

Even M&S itself admits that its latest takeaway offering is nothing more complicated that two slices of white bread spread with butter and jam.

But there are likely to be many adults who will be pleased to see a snack most commonly associated with childhood appearing on the shelves alongside a sea of far more exotic fillings.

In today's health-conscious times, the combination of white bread and sugary sweet jam might well have nutritionists throwing up their hands in horror.

But M&S remains unperturbed. It says the jam sandwich is 'one of the greatest simple pleasures of life' and that it will evoke memories of yesteryear.

It also claims it is the perfect quick fix credit crunch lunch.

The store says it will be the first jam sandwich for adults available on the high street and is part of the new 'Simply . . .' range of five sandwiches that contain straightforward ingredients - such as free-range egg, British ham and cheese.

M&S Sandwich specialist Katy Patino said: 'We are delighted to be launching this national favourite.

'It really is the ultimate comfort food at an unbeatable price, plus it's the only place on the high street where you can get a jam sandwich.

'For those who haven't eaten one for years, one bite takes you straight back to your childhood.'

The strawberry jam sandwich will be available in stores from next Thursday.

If the shoe fits: World's shortest man meets world's biggest shoe

The world's shortest man He Ping Ping took Tokyo by storm while visiting the city on Friday to launch the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.

Mr Ping Ping, who was born with a form of dwarfism and is 74.1 cm tall and 7kg in weight, easily slipped into the shoe of the world's tallest man. He has been officially named by the book as the world's shortest man.

He lives in Inner Mongolia, China, and Tokyo is just one of many places around the world he has visited, including London and New York.

Mr Ping Ping said: 'I'm not particularly envious of someone who is tall. If you're tall it is hard to move and it's very inconvenient,' according to reports.

'I can weave my way through tight spots if I'm short. It's much better to be short,' he added.

He is friends with another title holder, Bao Xishun, who was once the world's tallest man at 2.36m. Mr Xishun also lives in China's Inner Mongolia.

The current title holder for world's tallest man is Leonid Stadnyk, a 37-year-old former veterinarian from the Ukraine. At 2.57m, he is taller than Mr Xishun by 0.22cm.

The calves who were moo-ved in the back of a farmer's tiny VW Golf

This is the astonishing sight which met motorists travelling along a busy Austrian motorway.

Drivers were forced to look twice after a farmer transported two live calves in the back of his tiny VW Golf.

The move angered animal rights campaigners who accused him of being cruel after pictures of his unusual transport method emerged in the country's newspapers.

The unidentified farmer, from from Kufstein district in Tyrol, insisted he 'acted out of love for his animals' as they would have been 'too cold' in an open-air trailer.

He said he had converted his car especially for the purpose of transporting calves from his farm to the pasture or to the local vet.

The farmer even claimed police gave him the green light to do so when they checked his old Golf last year.

In a bid to calm anger over the move, the farmer added that he would only transport young animals in the car that did not weigh more than 80 kilos.

He also argued that a draft from an open-air trailer would be dangerous to the young animals' health - and that they would be warmer and more comfortable in the car.

Woman with the longest fingernails in the world breaks them all in a car crash

The woman with the longest fingernails in the world has broken them in a car crash.

American Lee Redmond escaped with her life in the four-car pile-up - but lost her talons in the accident on Tuesday.

She has been hospitalised with serious but not life-threatening injuries after she was ejected from the seat of an SUV in the crash.

She was not driving, but was a passenger in the SUV.

Redmond's nails hadn't been cut since 1979.

The Salt Lake City, Utah resident was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, which claimed her nails measured a total of more than 28 feet long in 2008.

The longest nail - on her right thumb - was a sickening 2 feet, 11 inches.

In an interview in 1995, Redmond, 68, said she once turned down $10,000 to trim her nails on Japanese TV.

Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Don Hutson says Redmond was ejected from an SUV in the crash and taken to the hospital in serious condition.

Redmond has been featured on TV in episodes of 'Guinness Book of World Records' and 'Ripley's Believe It or Not.'

The mother of all baby bumps: Octuplets mum bares her ENORMOUS stomach just eight days before giving birth

There are baby bumps and then there are baby bumps.

But there must be few women in history who have ever had a baby bump quite like octuplets mother Nadya Suleman.

These extraordinary pictures show the 33-year-old baring her stomach eight days before having her brood.

Smiling proudly, the mother-of-14 hoists her green patterned smock to show off her hugely distended stomach to the camera.

The photographs, which first went up on, show the strain her body was under as she reached the end of her record-breaking pregnancy.

Single mother Suleman, who already had six children by IVF, used a fertility doctor to give birth to her babies.

The new pictures surfaced on the day it emerged she had fled her house in Whittier, California, to go into hiding with her older children after receiving death threats.

She has even taken on the services of a security firm to ensure the safety of her family.

Her publicist Michael Furtney said: 'There has been some really nasty stuff about wanting to physically harm Nadya, and outrageous statements about both her and her children.

'We have a security firm that we've been working with and they have certainly made contact with the police about the threats. I don't know where that will go, but we'll see'

Much of the anger surrounds the eight babies' conception by IVF.

Yesterday, Suleman launched a website, encouraging readers to give her money via credit cards and send parcels.

The American mother, who already receives a raft of state handouts to care for her growing brood, also left a message to well-wishers.

'We thank you for the love and good wishes sent to us from around the world,' she said.

And she adds that the octuplets, born on January 26, are 'all healthy and growing stronger by the day.'

The babies have been named Noah, Maliah, Isaiah, Nariah, McCai, Josiah, Jeremiah and Jonah.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Miss Suleman has three disabled children

Despite previously insisting that she will not be claiming benefits, her publicist confirmed that she already receives food stamps and child disability payments to help feed and care for her six other children.

But he would not disclose the nature of the disabilities, or the type or sum of the payments.

The news came as it was revealed that all of Suleman's children were conceived with help from the same fertility doctor - Dr Michael Kamrava.

The 57-year-old, who runs a clinic on glamorous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, is being investigated by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Dr Kamrava, who helped pioneer embryo implantation, is a controversial figure in the field.

'He's tried some novel techniques and some of those methods have been controversial,' said Dr John Jain, founder of Santa Monica Fertility Specialists.

He criticised the decision to implant so many embryos, saying: 'I do think that this doctor really stepped outside the guidelines in a very extreme manner, and as such, put both the mother and children at extra high risk of disability and even death.’

Dr Jeffrey Steinberg, a professional acquaintance of Dr Kamrava's, said he worked to develop an embryo transfer device that allows doctors to implant an embryo - or sometimes sperm with an unfertilised egg - directly into the uterine lining.

Just in time for Valentine's Day: The heart-shaped island spotted on Google Earth that's become a hit with lovers

This deserted island's owners had always thought it looked like a bit like a heart - but when it started appearing on Google Earth, everyone else began to think so too.

Now the owners of the newly renamed Lovers' Island are being swamped with requests from smitten holidaymakers who want to spend a romantic break there.

Lovers' Island - formerly known by the more prosaic name of Galesnjak - is located in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of the popular tourism destination of Croatia.

It is just 130,000 square yards and is uninhabited, making it the perfect location for a romantic Valentine's Day getaway.

'It has been incredible,' Vlado Juresko told news agencies.

'We think it is the most perfect heart-shaped island in the world. Nobody lives there so if lovers really do want to spend time alone it's the perfect desert island.

'We always thought it looked a bit like a heart but since it's been on Google Earth everyone else has seen it too and the whole world seems to want to stay here.'

He did not elaborate on where potential tourists could stay while on the deserted island, or how they would find food and water.

And the lovers would have to wrap up well - the highest temperatures predicted for today in Croatia are just 14C which, while admittedly far warmer than chilly Britain, is still not quite balmy enough for suntanning or swimming.

Nevertheless, the romantic isolation of the island, its stunning natural beauty and - of course - the fact that it is shaped like a heart make it worth the trip.

The island is located in Zadarski Kanal between Zadar and the Island of Pasman.

Also in time for Valentine's Day... Ox born with a heart on its forehead

A Japanese farmer was astonished when a baby ox was born on his farm complete with a heart-shaped marking on its forehead.

The creatively-named 'Heart' was born 20 days ago at the Yamakun farm in Fujisawa, near Tokyo.

Kazunori Yamazaki, the 51-year-old farm owner, said, 'Good timing for Valentine's Day.'

Tornado blows into King's Cross

With a triumphant blast of steam – and to the applause of delighted train buffs – the first mainline steam loco built in Britain for nearly 50 years pulls into London yesterday.

The apple-green Tornado – funded by £3million of donations from enthusiasts – pulled the Talisman train into Platform 1 at King’s Cross after a six-hour, 250-mile journey from Doncaster.

A huge crowd of onlookers turned out to see the first steam train to enter the capital in more than 40 years.

One of its 500 passengers, John Warren, 64, from Whittlesey near Peterborough, said: ‘Thousands of people were at the sides of the tracks waving as we went by.’

Built by a team of volunteers over nearly 20 years, the A1 60163 Tornado is a Peppercorn class A1 locomotive.

It can reach 100mph and will run on the main-line network from April 18. The A1s were taken out of service by British Rail in the Sixties.

Revealed: How ants talk to each other in their nests

Scientists have discovered that ants routinely talk to each other in their nests by rubbing together a natural washboard and plectrum built into their chests.

By inserting tiny miniaturised microphones and speakers into nests, researchers established that queens can issue regal instructions to their workers.

They were able to make the first recordings of queens 'speaking' but also discovered other insects can mimic her instructions to turn worker ants into their slaves.

The Rebel's Large Blue butterfly has learnt to trick ants into feeding and caring for its young.

The young caterpillars exude a scent that mimics the red ants. This dupes the hard-working insects into carry them into their nest.

Once nestled inside the caterpillars beg for food by mimicking the noises made by a queen ant, researchers reported in the journal Science.

The recording revealed these were subtly different from the sounds made by worker ants.

'They appeared to be treating the caterpillars as if they were the holiest of holiest, the pinnacle of power, the queen ant,' study author Jeremy Thomas from Oxford University said.

In times of food shortage, nurse ants have been known to kill their own larvae and feed them to the caterpillars pretending to be queen ants, he added.

In nature, the real ant queen and the caterpillar keep to different parts of the ant colony and would not encounter one another, the report said.

But in an experiment, a butterfly pupa pretending to be an ant queen was placed in a chamber with worker ants and four real ant queens.

The ant queens began to attack and bite the caterpillar, but the workers intervened, biting and stinging their own queens, which they then pulled to a far corner of the chamber while other workers attended the pupa.

The caterpillar spends 11-23 months in the ant society before it metamorphoses into an adult, crawls out of the nest and flies away.

Professor Thomas said, 'This study is the final piece of the jigsaw towards understanding how the Rebel’s Large Blue caterpillars can out-compete their host
ant’s larvae.

'The new findings will play a key part in designing a successful science-led conservation strategy for this fascinating species.'

The research was carried out by an international team from the University of Turin, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the University of Oxford.

The cow that was zapped by lightening - and survived

It has certainly been flame grilled but this extraordinary cow is still standing.

The poor creature was struck by lightening and left with blistering burns. You would expect it to have been cooked alive.

But the cow miraculously survived, apparently unperturbed by the ordeal, and is already back roaming the meadows.

Professor of Physical Geography, Jon Nott of James Cook University, said the event was rare but entirely feasible.

He said: 'Cows are susceptible to lightning strikes because both sets of legs are on the ground.

'But, more often than not, they die from it.'

He added: 'The electricity from a lightning strike would enter the front set of legs and exit out the back legs so, based on the picture, it is possible it happened.

'While I can't explain the knee wounds, the ankle wounds would be consistent with those of lightning.'

The cow is believed to have been struck by the bolt in Gladstone, Queensland, Australia, last month.

But if it wasn't for its horrific wounds, you could hardly tell the animal had suffered.

Perhaps it has drawn comfort from the old wive's tale. After all, we are all told that lightning never strikes in the same place twice.

The runaway cow that brought chaos to city centre

A busy city centre is no place for a cow.

But for seven hours this determined animal defied the best efforts of the emergency services to return her to her farm home.

Police received numerous calls from alarmed residents and motorists as the runaway cow wandered for about two miles through the centre of Hull.

Such was the chaos it was causing that the police helicopter was despatched to help track it as night fell.

To make matters worse train services through the city had to be halted when it began wandering along the main line. A vet called to the scene hit the animal with a tranquiliser dart, but the stubborn animal kept going.

At one stage police believed they had the beast cornered in the grounds of a factory, but it slipped through a fence and got away.

The chase began at 3pm on Tuesday when it was reported walking along Spring Bank West in Hull.

It finally ended at around 10 pm when another tranquiliser dart finally succeeded in bringing the cow down near Hull City's KC stadium.

With the help of firefighters, who used lifting equipment to raise her from a ditch, she was reunited with her relieved owner. Her calf, which had also gone missing, was also found.

Owner Trevor Graves said:'We are really pleased. It is something that should never have happened, but it has. We're just pleased to get her back now.'

The cow escaped from his farm at Cottingham, on the western outskirts of the city, and headed towards the centre on an adventure of a lifetime.

A Humberside Police spokeswoman said a 'handful' of officers were involved in the hunt for the cow, which was clearly frightened by the strange surroundings she found herself in.

'It was causing a nuisance, stopping trains and all sorts,' said the spokeswoman. The force helicopter used its thermal imaging camera to pinpoint the large black animal in undergrowth and pointed a searchlight at her to help vets and officers on the ground to track her.

There were fears of a serious emergency when the cow wandered on to the rail line and all train services were immediately suspended.

Inspector Allan Harvey said:'The animal was shot with some drugs to try and neutralise it, at which point it ran back on the railway line, and as you can see it was more a case of concern for safety of members of the public.'

There were fears it may reach the city's main train station and cause panic, but it was stopped in time and firefighters took over the operation to return her home.

A fire service spokesman said:'The fire crews secured the animal's legs for their own safety and then removed it using a salvage sheet.'

Traveller caught at airport trying to smuggle two live pigeons and an aubergine... in his pants

An Australian traveller raised eyebrows and the suspicions of customs officers after he was found with two live pigeons and an aubergine down his pants.

Customs officials said the 23-year-old man was caught at Melbourne Airport following a trip to the Middle East.

Officials searched the man after they discovered two eggs hidden in a vitamin container in his luggage.

Customs Service national investigations manager Richard Janeczko said the pigeons were found wrapped in padded envelopes and held to each of the man's legs with a pair of tights.

Officials also seized seeds in his money belt and an undeclared aubergine, but are at a loss to explain why the goods were smuggled into the country.

Mr Janeczko said the pigeons were not endangered and that the case had been turned over to the Quarantine Service to assess the health risk associated with bringing the birds into the country.

Australia has one of the strictest quarantine regulations in the world in a bid to protect the isolated island's native flora and fauna.

Offenders face a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine of $110,000 Australian dollars (£48,600) for the illegal importation of wildlife, plants and food.

The alleged bird smuggler, who arrived in Melbourne on Sunday was being questioned and The Quarantine Service would not comment on the continuing investigation.

Novice skydiver steers himself to safety after tandem instructor dies mid-air from a heart attack

A first-time tandem skydiver was forced to parachute to the ground on his own after his instructor died of a heart attack in the air.

The learner, who is a soldier, managed to land safely while strapped to his teacher before trying to revive him following the six-minute jump.

Tragically, too much time had elapsed during the 13,000ft-high dive to effectively carry out CPR treatment on victim George ‘Chip’ Steele, 49.

But Keith Hudson, the Deputy Coroner for Chester County, South Carolina – where the jump took place – said the learner’s military skills helped avoid two deaths.

He said his experience as a soldier ‘helped him out a lot as far as making it to the ground safely.’

The unnamed soldier, who is in his 30s, had only followed a mandatory – but limited - 30-minute safety course.

Mr Steele’s mother, Betty Steele, said the survivor told an inquest that her son suffered the fatal heart attack after half way though the jump.

She said: ‘A few minutes out of the jump, he said something to Chip, and he didn’t answer. And he said something again and he didn’t answer.

‘He noticed when he looked at it that his head was slumped. He landed safely . . . and applied CPR, but it was too late. Chip was already gone.’

Mr Steele was working for Skydive Carolina Parachute Centre, which opened in July 1986 at Chester Catawba Airport.

He had made thousands of jumps in the last couple of decades, the company’s general manager James LaBarrie said.

‘There was no equipment malfunction whatsoever. From what we understand, the instructor evidently had something go wrong medically,’ he added.

This is the second accident of this kind in the history of the company.

The first accident happened in 1989, when a 42-year-old man died after he apparently failed to open either his main or reserve chute.