Obituary: The death from old age has been announced of Minnie, the last surviving "astro-chimp" from the early days of the US space program. Minnie, 41, was the only female chimp trained for the Mercury Project in the Sixties, but while her colleague Ham became the first chimp in space in 1961, she never flew herself. She will be buried beside Ham at the Space Center in Alamogordo.

More deaths: According to a report in a Vietnamese newspaper, the country is making encouraging progress in its war against rats. Since a campaign began at the start of the year, an estimated 27.7 million rats have been killed despite a national shortage of snakes and cats, the rat's natural enemies. Rats caused some $6m damage to rice crops last year, when a total of 55 million rats were killed throughout the country.

And finally: Guangzhou city in China has announced plans to start making coffins from paper instead of wood because of a timber shortage. An estimated 12,500 acres of forest is burned in China every year in coffins used for cremations. In future, Guangzhou city plans to allow only foreigners to use wooden coffins.