Copenhagen's little mermaid loses her head

The most famous mermaid in the world has lost her head for the second time.

The decapitation was reported before dawn yesterday by a passerby in the harbourside park in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the statue perches on a rock.

As scuba divers searched the harbour waters for the missing head, police said they were looking for two young men who were seen rollerskating from the park and laughing at about the time the vandalism was reported. The police took the first decapitation in 1964 so seriously that it was investigated by the homicide squad, but no arrests were made.

In South Africa, the East London aquarium claimed to have captured a real mermaid. The local press promised she would go on show at the weekend and carried photographs of Tessa du Toit, a teenage aquarium guide, complete with fish tail lying on the rocks in the penguin pool.

The stunt pulled in the crowds, but: "It all went wrong when people began asking Tessa to swim," said Willie Maritz, the aquarium curator, yesterday. "I said she cannot swim with that suit on, then people really lost it ... shouting 'fraud' and pelting her with missiles. We had to call in the police."

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