foto: Radio Praha

Czechs are feeling the credit crunch but fortune-tellers say their business is booming! A woman gives birth on the D-five highway in minus ten degree temperatures, and why the swans of the Vltava river need to go on a diet. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.

Not many people can say they are benefiting from the financial crisis, but fortune tellers are reported to be doing better than ever. While people may think twice about spending money on luxury products, a fortune teller is a different matter altogether. Andrea Ševčíková from Hradec Králové says her business is booming – since the crisis started making front pages she has 30 percent more clients than before and 40 percent of them are men. Unlike women who ask her about the men in their lives – her male clients want specific information regarding the crisis. Well, at least it is benefiting someone, although I’m sure that fortune tellers have worked hard for the extra money brushing up their business vocabulary.

Place of birth: the 128th km of the D5 highway. The last baby to be born on this particular stretch of the highway was baby Lukáš who came into the world so quickly last week that his father had no option but to pull over and settle his wife into the back seat. Fortunately a police car passing by stopped to investigate what was going on and the officers helped the woman give birth to her second child right there, wrapping the baby in a blanket and making the new-baked mum comfortable in the police car. At the time the temperature outside was minus ten degrees Celsius. Police say they keep an eye out on this particular stretch of the highway which seems to have a special attraction for mothers-to-be. The last time a mum gave birth there – this time to twins - was a few days before Christmas. Her husband helped the first baby into the world, paramedics got there in time for the second one. In fact last year four babies came into the world on this stretch of the D5 highway – close enough to Tachov Hospital but still too far to go. If this goes one maybe they should consider building a maternity clinic by the roadside.

Photo: CTK
Not many senators today wear hats – and if you catch them wearing one it will be on holiday in the mountains – not a hat that they would like to have shown to the public or have associated with them. However things were not always that way. Nineteenth and twentieth century statesmen, painters and writers laid great store by their hats and chose them carefully. Many of these hats have been preserved and courtesy of the Nový Jičín museum will be shown to the public in Prague in May of this year in one of the exhibition halls of the Czech Senate. There are hats worn by presidents Tomas Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Beneš, writer Jan Neruda or opera diva Emma Destin. Most of the hats were made in the Czech Republic at the famous hat-makers Huckel. Because many of the hats are in somber colours – grey brown and black – the exhibition will be livened up by hats lent by theatre companies. The exhibition of Famous Hats will be on show at the Senate between May 6th and June 30th.

Heavy snowfall around the country has been giving maintenance crews and traffic police a big headache, but officers in Slavkov, near Brno had a good laugh when they were called out to deal with an emergency on Wednesday morning. The “emergency” was an enormous penis made of snow and sculpted down to the last detail – the work of a group of locals who’s most likely had a few drinks and decided to build a snow sculpture on their way home from the pub. It really was quite something – local police chief Pavel Ehrenberger told the CTK news agency. Something or not, it had to come down since it was standing on a path frequently used by the local children on their way to school.

Swans are generally perceived as the most gracious of the bird species – however in Prague they are getting positively tubby. Feeding the swans on the banks of the Vltava river is a popular pastime and most people feed them the same thing- bread or rolls. Ornithologists say that what looks like a good deed in the winter months is actually doing the birds a lot of harm. They are getting a lot of carbohydrates and no proteins, no vitamins and no minerals. Autopsies of dead birds –which are done regularly because of the threat of bird flu- show that swans on the Vltava have more body fat than is healthy and that their kidneys are in bad shape. They are moreover fast losing the ability to find appropriate food - plankton and river plants. Apparently feeding them rolls is especially dangerous when they are bringing out their young - because they get fed the wrong food from the nest. So when you next set out to feed the ducks or swans in your vicinity remember to bring them vegetable or apple skins.

The Liberec zoo has just reported another success in its breeding programme for threatened species – the hatching in captivity of a precious Bearded Vulture. In Europe, Bearded Vultures can still be found in the Pyrenees and there are a few isolated pairs in Corsica and Crete, but all are severely endangered and zoos on the continent are involved in a project that aims to build up the Bearded Vulture population through captive breeding and release, so that eventually they are capable of surviving and reproducing in the wild without human intervention. The Liberec zoo has so far produced nine Bearded Vultures though all but one had to be incubated and fed artificially. This one was hatched by its natural parents which is considered a big success. If all goes well it should be released in the Alps in the early summer. The Liberec Zoo has close to 1,000 animals and twenty of its breeds are endangered species.