New Zealand PM’s neighbor lets the cat out of the bag

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 July 2019

New Zealand PM’s neighbor lets the cat out of the bag

  • Paddles, who was “polydactyl,” with extra toes that looked like thumbs, also once interrupted a phone call between Ardern and US President Donald Trump by jumping on a table

WELLINGTON: A guilt-ridden neighbor of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed Wednesday that he was responsible for accidentally killing the nation’s “First Cat” Paddles while reversing out of his driveway.
Paddles died in November 2017, shortly after Ardern won office, but the full circumstances of the death were never publicly revealed, leading to curiosity about who killed the cat.
The much-loved feline was a popular member of the prime ministerial household, with a Twitter account set up in her name, @FirstCatofNZ, attracting more than 11,000 followers.
US magazine Vanity Fair praised the tech-savvy feline for “helping establish Ardern as the latest hip, cool world leader that America wishes it had.”
Paddles, who was “polydactyl,” with extra toes that looked like thumbs, also once interrupted a phone call between Ardern and US President Donald Trump by jumping on a table.
Ardern’s neighbor, identified only as Chris, told the stuff.co.nz news website that he was rushing back to work from a lunch break in his Auckland home when the prime ministerial moggy ran into the path of his reversing car.
“It was kind of shocking at first, and I felt fairly bad because I knew a bit of the back story, I knew Paddles had some kind of social media presence and had an extra toe,” he said.
“I was also aware that to Jacinda and Clarke, Paddles was their fur baby at that point that they loved, so I was pretty gutted.”
He could have made a purrfect getaway, but Chris fronted up to the prime ministerial household and told them what he had done, saying Ardern was understanding.
He said his children even wrote a condolence card asking Ardern not to send their father to prison.
After Chris spoke publicly about the incident for the first time on Wednesday, the @FirstCatofNZ twitter account retweeted his story and made its first post in more than a year.
“I forgive you. #prrp.”

 


Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

Updated 16 November 2019

Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

  • Wildlife ranger Craig Dickmann made a split-second decision to go fishing in a remote part of Northern Australia known as ‘croc country.’
  • ‘That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws’

CAIRNS, Australia: An Australian wildlife ranger has recounted his terrifying escape from the clutches of a “particularly cunning” crocodile, after wrestling with the reptile and sticking a finger in its eye.
Craig Dickmann, who made a split-second decision to go fishing last Sunday in a remote part of Northern Australia known as “croc country” last Sunday, said a 2.8-meter (nine-foot) crocodile came up from behind him as he was leaving the beach.
“As I’ve turned to go, the first thing I see is its head just come at me,” he told reporters on Friday from his hospital bed in the town of Cairns in Queensland state.
Dickmann said the animal latched on to his thigh.
“That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws,” he said.
The 54-year-old said he wrestled with the croc on the remote beach as it tried to drag him into the water.
Dickmann stuck his thumb into its eye, saying it was the only “soft spot” he found on the “bullet-proof” animal.
“Their eyes retract a fair way and when you go down far enough you can feel bone so I pushed as far as I possibly could and then it let go at that point,” Dickmann said.
After a few minutes, he said he managed to get on top of the croc and pin its jaws shut.
“And then, I think both the croc and I had a moment where we’re going, ‘well, what do we do now?’”
Dickmann said he then pushed the croc away from him and it slid back into the water.
The ranger had skin ripped from his hands and legs in the ordeal and drove more than 45 minutes back to his home before calling emergency services.
It was then another hour in the car to meet the Royal Flying Doctors Service who flew him to Cairns Hospital, where he is recovering from the ordeal.
“This croc was particularly cunning and particularly devious,” he said.
Queensland’s department of environment this week euthanized the animal.
“The area is known croc country and people in the area are reminded to always be crocwise,” the department said in a statement.
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven meters long and weigh more than a ton, are common in the vast continent’s tropical north.
Their numbers have exploded since they were declared a protected species in the 1970s, with attacks on humans rare.
According to the state government, the last non-fatal attack was in January 2018 in the Torres Strait while the last death was in October 2017 in Port Douglas.