Goat-throwing curbed

MANGANESES DE LA POLVOROSA (Reuter) - One of Europe's most notorious fiestas was tamed by animal-rights groups yesterday when locals in a northern Spanish village were prevented from throwing a goat from the top of their church tower.

Instead, amid cheers and music from a brass band, they lowered the animal on a rope and let it fall the last 10m (30ft) into a canvas sheet held open by villagers. 'We have banned the goat-throwing ceremony and sanctioned instead a goat-lowering ceremony,' said Mayor Jose Manuel Gil Barrio.

However, a group of local youths said they wanted the goat-throwing to be reintroduced. One said: 'We're going out tonight, once you lot (the media) have left, to chuck one off a roof or something. And we won't be using a sheet.'

Another animal made the news in New Zealand, where three hikers yesterday said they saw, chased and photographed a huge flightless bird and are convinced it was a moa, believed to be extinct for 500 years, the New Zealand Press Association reported.