A ten-year-old Czech girl has made headlines with her ability to talk backwards. Czechs have taken a fancy to sponsoring animals at the zoo. And Speaker’s Corner at Palacký Sqaure is giving Prague City Hall a headache. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.

Plzeň Zoo reports that its animal-sponsoring programme, launched 12 years ago, has finally taken off. After a slow start people are becoming more and more involved and many people are giving their friends and family sponsorship certificates as gifts. The zoo’s spokesman Martin Vobruba says that people think long and hard about what animal would please their colleague or friend best. Penguins, hippos, kangaroos and exotic birds are in great demand. Foxes are also high on the list because the name “Liska” -which means fox - is very common in the Czech Republic and families who have an animal name naturally want to sponsor “their own”. Many local firms and institutions have also joined the sponsorship programme, knowing that it is good publicity. And there again it is each to his own. A group of Plzeň pathologists pooled money to adopt the zoo’s vultures and hyena dogs, while the maternity ward of a Plzeň hospital is sponsoring the zoo’s storks. The Plzeň Zoo is the second oldest in the Czech Republic and has over 5,000 animals.

A ten-year-old Czech girl has made headlines with her ability to talk backwards. Vanda Dubská has been mastering the art since she was five years old and is now considered to be a pro at something many children try out for fun but soon lose interest in. Last week Vanda decided to establish her primacy and set an official record, turning a text containing 932 letters back-to-front in five minutes thirty two seconds flat. Surrounded by TV cameras, she promptly said the sentences backward as soon as they were read out to her. The kid has just one problem: there aren’t many people to talk to – backwards.

Europe’s blue blood headed for Karlovy Vary last weekend for the 12th annual get-together of the European nobility. Over six hundred members of the old nobility assembled at the famous West Bohemian spa town for what is a rare opportunity to see members of their extensive families – scattered around Europe - under one roof. This year’s get-together coincided with the 650th anniversary of the town’s founding, on the occasion of which the town organized an exposition documenting visits to Karlovy Vary by royalty and famous people over the years. This proved a huge success because members of Europe’s nobility could trace their own family history, finding photos and documents of visits made to Karlovy Vary by their ancestors. As usual the highlight of the event was the Spring Ball which starts at six in the evening and ends at 5am. Similar get-togethers of Europe’s nobility take place in Vienna, Munich, Paris and Munster.

Czech scientists at the Technical University of Liberec have significantly contributed to the fight against pirated goods, namely clothes. They invented the so called Permetest – an instrument that is capable of testing the water-vapour permeability of any given material. Within a matter of seconds this gadget is capable of detecting a fake product. Quality clothes by renowned firms have a high water-vapour permeability to keep the wearer feeling cool, dry and comfortable. On the other hand, fake goods are usually made of second-rate textiles which leave one feeling either cold or sweaty. The Permetest is already being used in twenty-two countries of the world to detect fakes but its inventors are still waiting to get a pat on the back from their native country. Although the Czech Republic has a serious problem with pirated goods for some reason the Czech authorities have yet to show an interest in this invention.

It has been described as the smallest gallery in the world – and it is so small that if you want to visit it you have to crawl in on all fours and view most of the exhibits in a horizontal position. The organizers have kindly provided a mattress and pillows to make it comfortable. On display are 54 caricatures of famous people by Lubomír Vaněk who recently wowed the crowd by drawing 382 caricatures in the space of three hours. He claims he can even draw a caricature underwater. So why is his work in such a tiny space? The Pelhřimov Museum of Records and Curiosities, which organized the exhibition, says the answer is simple – just for the fun of it.

Neo-Nazis at speaker's corner on Palacký Square
The establishment of a speaker’s corner on Palacký Square was welcomed with great enthusiasm a few years ago as yet another sign of the country’s return to democracy. But after just a few years it has become a problem-spot and a hot-potato for Prague City Hall. The Prague 6 district now says it does not want a speaker’s corner on its territory because it only serves extremist groups and, as such, is a cause of trouble. For instance, not long ago when Neo-Nazis were refused permission to hold a march in the town of Plzeň they said they would go and have their say at Prague’s speaker’s corner where they did not need permission to assemble. The result was hundreds of officers out in force on the day to prevent possible skirmishes with anarchists. Given the popularity of online chat rooms it is not very surprising that the Prague speaker’s corner on Palacký Square has not become anything like Speaker’s Corner at Hyde Park. And for that reason none of Prague’s districts are willing to have it. None, that is, but Letňany which offered a field on the suburbs for that purpose. Prague City Hall, which does not want to scrap speaker’s corner altogether is now racking its brains as to where it could be established. One suggestion is that since nobody wants it, it should become a “traveling” speakers corner, spending some time of the year in each of Prague’s seventeen districts.