Chongqing, July 16 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Two giant pandas in a zoo in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality gave birth to two pairs of twins on June 23, the zoo said Tuesday.
Female panda Lanxiang, 17, gave birth to a pair of male cubs in the wee hours of June 23, weighing 167 and 115 grams, respectively.
Another female panda, Mangzai, gave birth to a pair of female cubs in the afternoon on the same day, measuring 142 and 160 grams in weight, respectively.
This was the second time that the two giant pandas gave birth to twins, according to the zoo.
Chongqing zoo began to raise giant pandas in the 1960s and began to breed panda cubs in the 1980s.
So far, the zoo has bred 36 giant pandas, including nine pairs of twins and one set of triplets.
Corolla, Jul 15 (AP/UNB) — One of North Carolina's famed wild mustangs was killed when it ran into a power line, making it the second death in the herd this summer.
News outlets reports the Corolla Wild Horse Fund says the mare was found tangled in unmarked wire Saturday morning. The horse was the mother to a young foal born in March. In a Facebook post , the fund said the foal was in good hands with other older horses in the herd and was being closely monitored.
It's the second death reported this summer among the Outer Banks' herd of 100. In June, one of the horses was euthanized after becoming injured in a fight with a fellow horse. Shortly after, another horse was injured when it was hit by a car on the beach.
Moscow, July 13 (AP/UNB) — Residents of a city in Siberia don't need to fly off to tropical locales for picturesque selfies taken by pristine turquoise waters. Thousands of Novosibirsk residents — ranging from scantily clad women to newlyweds — have been busy instagramming near a bright blue lake nicknamed the "Siberian Maldives."
The lake is blue, however, as a result of a chemical reaction between toxic waste elements from a local power station, and environmentalists are warning people against coming into contact with the water.
"We can compare it only with photos of the Maldives," said Sergey Griva, a local resident who visited the lake, adding he's never been to the Maldives and couldn't find it on a map.
Dmitry Shakhov, a Russian environmentalist, warned that the water can cause allergic reactions or even chemical burns if ingested or touched.
"This water is saturated with heavy metals (and) harmful substances," he said.
The Siberian Generating Company said Friday it has deployed guards to keep trespassers at bay, but insists the lake presents no environmental danger.
Dhaka, Jul 13 (AP/UNB) - It takes just a twist of the wrist to determine when pears are ready to come off the tree.
For plums and peaches, flesh firmness is a good way to verify maturity.
Blackberries? Check the color.
Nature offers a wide range of clues about when the time is ripe for harvesting fruit and minimizing losses.
“Tasting may be all that is needed and is the simplest method for determining ripeness,” said Leonard Perry, horticulture professor emeritus at the University of Vermont. “Birds eating your fruit, too, is a good sign they are ripe for the picking. Look under an apple tree. If a few have fallen to the ground already, most are likely ripe.”
Peaches can be picked when they separate easily from the branches. For best flavors, let peaches and apricots mature fully on the tree.
Raspberries and blackberries are prime when the fruit is no longer green and the berries separate easily from the plant.
Mature apples should be firm but yielding. “When you take a bite of an apple, it should be sweet and crisp without any trace of starchiness,” said Teryl Roper, a pomology professor at Utah State University. “Skin color helps to determine maturity but it is not always reliable. Seed color is not a reliable indicator of fruit maturity.”
Some other guidelines for harvesting fruit:
— Be gentle when picking and storing fruit to avoid bruising, which hastens deterioration and mold. “This is particularly important for very soft raspberries, which should only be stored in shallow containers,” Perry said.
— Ripe fruit should have a noticeable aroma.
— Pick early in the day, especially berries. They won’t spoil as readily as those picked in full sun and hotter temperatures.
— Fruit to be dried should first ripen fully. Fruit to be cooked or preserved can be picked when slightly green. Cooking or blending can salvage bruised, damaged or over-ripe fruit.
And then there’s storage, the other vital half of the fresh fruit equation.
“Once a crop is harvested, it is almost impossible to improve its quality,” Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service horticulturists say in a fact sheet. “Losses of horticultural crops due to improper storage and handling can range from 10 to 40 percent.”
The key to successful fruit storage is quick cooling, Roper said: “Pick them and get them cool as quickly as possible.”
In general, fruit should not be washed right after harvest, since that can allow disease-carrying organisms to spread from one fruit to another. But fruit should be washed just before it’s prepared and eaten, Roper said. “Washing is about removing human pathogens,” he said.
Different fruit crops have different storage tolerances. Soft fruits will last only a couple of weeks, while apples and pears can be stored for months.
But be cautious with pears, which will mature on the tree but not ripen, Roper said.
“If pears are left on the tree too long, they turn brown inside,” he said. “Pears need to be harvested, stored for two to four weeks at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, then given two to three days of room temperature before they are ready for the best eating experience.”
Montpelier, Jul 13 (AP/UNB) — Almost three dozen cannabis plants have been found growing in the flower beds in front of the Vermont Statehouse, police said Friday.
A visitor to the Statehouse alerted police to what turned out to be 34 plants found by officers this week among the cultivated flowers that line the walkway in front of the building in Montpelier.
Workers for the branch of state government responsible for the gardens might have found more plants, said Capitol Police Chief Matthew Romei.
The chief said that he didn't know whether the immature plants were marijuana or hemp and that he doesn't intend to have the plants tested to see because he foresees no criminal case.
In Vermont, possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use is legal, but it remains illegal to grow it in public. Farmers can plant hemp as a cash crop.
"The only way we can make a criminal case is if someone comes down and claims it," Romei said Friday.
Officials have made similar discoveries in the Statehouse flower gardens in previous years, Romei said, but it was the first instance in the two years he has been chief.
"This was a humorous thing to come back to off from vacation," Romei said of Monday's discovery.