Miles Kington: The slothful sloth, and other strange but (maybe) true stories

After three whole years of trying to get it to make the simplest of movements, scientists have given up and donated it to a zoo
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The Independent Online

It's time to test you on the news again - but this time it's different! Normally I bring you a clutch of mostly fake news stories, and ask you to spot the genuine one hidden among them. This time the news stories are all genuine - except for one fake one. Can you spot the fake? Let's go!

1. After three years, scientists in Germany have finally admitted defeat at the hands of a sloth.

Zoologists at the University of Jena who were studying animal movement simply wanted the sloth to move up and down a pole. It consistently refused, even when tempted by its favourite dishes. After three whole years of trying to get it to do this simplest of movements, they have given up. It now has been donated to a zoo in Duisburg, where it seems to be happy, though it is hard to tell.

Axel Burchardt, a university spokesman, said: "I am afraid the sloth had absolutely no interest in furthering the cause of science."

2. Prison overcrowding has become so bad in England that one man was locked up for a while in a police car - which he then drove off in!

The prisoner, Arthur Constable (sic), due to serve three months, was temporarily allocated a police cell in a Yorkshire city police station.

"We hadn't actually got a cell vacant at the time," said a police spokesman. "So meanwhile we decided to lock him in a police car. There was a spare one in the yard, awaiting repair. What we didn't realise was that Constable was a skilled car thief and could get a car going without using an ignition key, just joining wires under the dashboard. The first we knew, we saw the prisoner driving off."

The car broke down within 20 miles of escape, and he was rearrested before he could get away. But police are not sure whether to bring further charges. He did not exactly steal the car, as, legally, he was put in it by the police in the first place, and thus given the freedom of it.

"Nor did he escape from prison, not technically," said the spokesman. "We imprisoned him in the car. Which he never attempted to leave. Technically, he did not leave his prison but took it with him."

3. An American has been arrested for using a stun gun on his wife's grandmother. Aaron de Bruyn said he had been arguing with her about the right way to deal with his seven-month-old son. She said he was abusing the boy. He got angry and ordered her out of the room. When she refused to go, he picked up a 50,000 volt Taser X26 "energy weapon" which he kept for action against burglars and gave her a blast in her right shoulder.

When she still wouldn't go, he phoned the police to get them to help get rid of her, but they arrested him instead and confiscated his gun.

De Bruyn said later: "If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't."

4. A Leeds man learnt that his girlfriend was cheating on him - from his parrot. Every time the girl's mobile rang, the parrot would squawk: "Hiya, Gary!" Unfortunately, the Leeds man's name is Chris.

He thought nothing of it until, snuggling up to the girl on the sofa one night, he was somewhat distressed to hear the parrot cry out: "I love you, Gary!"

Under questioning, the girl friend broke down in tears and admitted she had been having a passionate affair with a colleague called Gary, sometimes on that very sofa.

Chris and the girl have now split up. But Chris couldn't bear hearing Gary's name still being called out, so the much-loved parrot has had to go as well.

"I lost my girlfriend and my best mate at the same time," said Chris sorrowfully.

Well? Which one did you go for? They all sound pretty dicy, of course. But they were all reported in news services, so they must be genuine, mustn't they? Oh, except for the one about the man who drove away in a police car.

Did you get the right one? Then I am obviously making it far too easy for you. Next time - no more Mr Nice Guy!

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