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World Briefs

Gorilla celebrates birthday

The world’s first zoo-born gorilla had a swinging 56th birthday at her Ohio home, opening presents and munching on a selection of tasty treats.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums says Colo the western lowland gorilla is the oldest gorilla in captivity. She was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 1956.

The zoo marked mother-of-three Colo’s birthday with a cake specially prepared for her and other gifts, including her favourite food – tomatoes.

The zoo included guests in the fun by having them sing ‘Happy Birthday’.

Colo’s family tree includes more than two dozen descendants living in zoos across the US.

Favourite Christmas carol

O Holy Night has once again triumphed as the UK’s favourite Christmas carol.

The song, which dates back to 1847, topped an annual poll by radio station Classic FM.

O Holy Night has regularly topped the countdown since 2003. A year earlier it came third with Silent Night leading the field, but got a boost when it was performed by Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus.

Timbuktu tombs wrecked

Islamist extremists have destroyed four mauso-leums in Timbuktu, tourism officials say.

Ansar Dine rebels linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb tore down the mausoleums, which were historic but not included on the UN list of World Heritage sites.

The mausoleums housed the remains of Muslim scholars and teachers who are revered by the Timbuktu population.

Since taking control of Timbuktu earlier this year, Islamists have destroyed seven of the 16 mausoleums listed as world heritage sites. Some date back to the 14th century.

Potato heads are handy

Aircraft engineers at Boeing in the US have been using sacks of potatoes to improve the Wi-Fi signal for passengers.

The spuds were used as stand-ins for passengers so as to eliminate weak spots with in-flight wireless signals. They needed full planes to get accurate results during signal testing and the potatoes - because of their water content and chemistry – absorb and reflect radio wave signals much the same way as the human body does, making them suitable substitutes for airline passengers.

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