Public sympathy saves a baboon from banishment. A forty-six-year-old machine engineer discovers a hidden talent – embroidering tapestries with both hands! And a precious 19th century menorah is loaned to the White House for the Chanukkah celebrations. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.
The campaign to save Heiko -a baboon from the Brno zoo who was to have been “deported” for misconduct – appears to have done the trick. After two escapes from the zoo during which he managed to avoid his keepers for days on end Heiko was to have been sent to a zoo elsewhere in Europe –for his own safety and that of the public – but the baboon, who befriended many people during his outings and became something of a local hero has aroused a wave of sympathy. Just hours after news of his planned banishment broke, his fans launched a campaign that many a politician might envy. Heiko’s picture appeared on billboards, tea-mugs, T-shirts and trinkets to raise awareness of his plight. Under growing public pressure the zoo agreed to keep him if money could be raised for a new –safer – enclosure. Money is now pouring into a bank account set up for that purpose and seeing the advantages of having a mascot the zoo has decided to start a breeding programme for baboons. Plans are in motion for Heiko to get a mate which –if she’s half good looking - should help keep him at home as well!
Karel Trlica, photo: CTK
It’s not the kind of garden most people would admire – instead of trees, shrubs and garden architecture – it’s full of military vehicles – a Soviet Mig 23 fighter plane, a T-34 tank, armored vehicles and other veterans acquired for the price of scrap metal after the Warsaw Pact was disbanded. The awesome collection belongs to three brothers Karel, Jan and František Trlica, who share a passion for big machinery and are putting together their own open-air museum. Apart from veterans acquired from the Czechoslovak army they have a few American and British exhibits including a Willis Jeep and a Bedford truck which both served in WWII. There’s also a bus, a crane and several old motorcycles – basically anything with an old motor which the brothers are able to fix themselves. Most of their veterans are operable and they bring them out once a year –in June – for a military parade of sorts – all except the fighter jet, that is. Apparently putting them through their paces once a year is part of maintenance and helps keep them in working order. Well, let’s hope that family never wages war against anyone in the village.
Very few old veterans get thrown on the scrap heap in this country. The national Museum of Technology has just launched a money collection to help save a steam engine made in 1956 – one of the last steam engines made for Czechoslovak Railways. In its hey-day this technological wonder was highly prized and in 1961 had the honour of transporting the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev to a meeting in Vienna with the newly elected US president John F Kennedy. Because of its bright green colour the locomotive was dubbed the Frog and remained in active service until 1974 when it became part of the collection of the National Museum of Technology, only getting out on festive occasions. At the age of 50 the engine’s steam boiler is badly in need of repair - to which end the public has been asked to contribute 2 million crowns.
The Pelhřimov Museum of Records and Curiosities is currently exhibiting a unique tapestry made by an amateur. A forty-six year-old machine engineer from Slovakia who was forced to spend four years at home after an accident saw a gobelin or tapestry maker on television and decided to try his hand at the art. First he worked on Czech castles from picture postcards and caricatures that he liked in the daily papers. When he got the hang of it he went for the ultimate challenge – a tapestry of the Last Supper – almost 2 meters by 1,35 which required over a million stitches and which took him all of nine years. Long before that, he went back to work again but he was so into his new hobby that he spent every spare moment stitching away. On weekdays he would spend three hours on average at his embroidery, on weekends as many as nine hours a day. And in order to relive the fatigue he learnt to embroider equally well with both hands – which meant he needed fewer breaks. Clearly men have many hidden talents that rarely come to light.
A thirty year old man from Pardubice made headlines recently after breaking into a local pub at night, making himself a meal, serving himself a few drinks and eventually calling the cops and a tv crew to come and document the crime. The father of two was due to start serving a two-month sentence for failing to pay alimony and decided he wanted to enjoy his last night of freedom and get a free ride to the jail house. The officers were not amused and neither was the pub owner who reported damage to the tune of twenty thousand crowns.
Celebrations of the Jewish festival of light, Chanukkah, started on Friday with a crowd of people turning up to see the lighting of a giant menorah on Prague’s Palach square. This year the Jewish Museum in Prague contributed to the annual Chanukkah celebrations at the White House by loaning a precious menorah made in 1873 that is part of the museum’s collection. The loan was agreed on earlier this year when the US First Lady Michelle Obama viewed the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague and was enchanted by the exhibit. The menorah belonged to a Jewish family who perished in a concentration camp during the war and this will be the first time it will be lit since leaving private hands.