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William and Kate star in Kiwi April Fools' gags

The impending royal visit by Prince William, his wife Kate and their baby son George provided ample fodder for April Fool's Day pranksters in New Zealand and Australia on Tuesday. Coach firm InterCity said the British royals had decided to use a humble bus for part of their tour of New Zealand next week "in keeping with their frugal, down-to-earth public image".

New Zealand's kiwi probably started out an Aussie

In a finding likely to be a bitter blow for many New Zealanders, researchers have found the country's iconic kiwi bird probably descended from an ancestor that flew in from Australia. Palaeontologist Trevor Worthy of Adelaide's Flinders University said fossilised remains suggested the flightless bird did not evolve from the extinct giant moa, as has long been assumed. Instead, he said an ancestor of the kiwi dating back 20 million years discovered in the South Island was more closely related to another giant flightless bird, the emu, which is still common in Australia.

Outbreak of bird flu hits ostrich farm in South Africa, but authorities says it is unlikely to pose threat to humans

An outbreak of bird flu has hit an ostrich farm in South Africa, but authorities said it was unlikely to pose a threat to humans, though additional tests were being carried out after another strain killed eight people in China.The outbreak has prompted restrictions on the movement of the big birds and their products in the Western Cape province, the Western Cape ministry of agriculture said in a statement today.Tests samples from an ostrich farm near Oudtshoorn, the centre of South Africa's ostrich export industry, found the presence of the H7N1 virus, the ministry said.<

S.African feather thieves target ostriches

South African thieves are invading ostrich farms and poaching feathers from the giant birds, in a crime that has baffled local farmers, an industry chief said Tuesday. "This started during the last six weeks," said Piet Kleyn, the chief of the South African Ostrich Business Chamber. He said thieves sneaked up on the birds at night and plucked their feathers without using proper tools. "The frightened birds are badly treated and some die because of the terrible injuries," Kleyn told AFP.

Keepers baffled as emu stolen from Australian park

Keepers at an Australian wildlife park Wednesday said they were concerned and baffled at the theft of an emu in a night raid, saying it would be frightened and possibly injured. The tall female bird was discovered missing from Featherdale Wildlife Park in Sydney's western suburbs early Tuesday. Her enclosure contained a large quantity of feathers, indicating a struggle. "It looks like the emu may have sustained injuries during the theft," park curator Chad Staples said in a statement.
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