STOCKHOLM, Sweden, March 31 (UPI) -- A Swedish court cleared a former police officer of sexual molestation when he explained he was trying to scratch an itch, not masturbate in front of a woman.
The woman accused the man of masturbating in front of her on four occasions in November 2012 as she passed his house on her way to gather her children from school, Swedish news agency TT reported Friday.
She said he exposed himself while inside his house standing in front of a window and appeared to play with himself. The woman's lawyer presented two items of video evidence of the incidents, recorded by the woman's husband, TT reported.
The man explained to the Vaxjo district court he often walked around naked at home and he only touched himself to relieve a troublesome itch.
The court cleared the man of any wrongdoing, finding no proof his actions were directed at the woman, TT reported.
Panda artificially inseminated at zoo
WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- Veterinarians at the Smithsonian's National Zoo have artificially inseminated a female giant panda after a failed attempt at natural conception, officials said.
When scientists and veterinarians determined that the two had not mated, Tang Chunxiang -- the assistant director and chief veterinarian of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province, China -- artificially inseminated Mei Xiang Saturday morning using both fresh and frozen sperm from Tian Tian.
Female giant pandas are only fertile for a few days every year, so when officials at the zoo noticed elevated estrogen levels in Mei Xiang Tuesday, they knew it they had little time.
"We are hopeful that our breeding efforts will be successful this year, and we're encouraged by all the behaviors and hormonal data we've seen so far," said Dave Wildt, head of the Center for Species Survival at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. "We have an extremely small window of opportunity to perform the procedures, which is why we monitor behavior and hormones so closely."
Mei Xiang, 15, and Tian Tian, 16, are on loan at the Smithsonian National Zoo from China until 2015.
Giant pandas are an endangered species, with an estimated population of 1,600 worldwide.
Canadian dog honored for foiling pit bull
CHILLIWACK, British Columbia, March 30 (UPI) -- A plucky Chihuahua is being honored by an animal-rights group for saving its owner from an angry pit bull in Canada.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it was giving the little dog named Honey its "Small Dog, Big Hero" award for going after a neighbor's pit bull, after the pit bull attacked 8-year-old Jenna Desrochers last week in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
Jenna was seriously injured but it might have been worse had Honey not gone nose-to-knee with the neighbor's aggressive mutt, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.
PETA said Honey's heroics were a reminder of the good things that can happen to families that adopt dogs, the CBC said.
"PETA hopes Honey's selflessness and bravery will remind everyone of the many rewards of sharing our lives with animal companions -- and the importance of valuing their devotion by becoming the best guardians possible," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said.
Moscow man strips to protest long winter
MOSCOW, March 30 (UPI) -- Weather forecasters reassured Russians spring was on the way after a Moscow man picketed their offices in his swimming trunks.
The unidentified protester stood in front of the Hydro-Meteorological Center Friday holding a sign that read "Let Summer Come Faster" as unusually cold weather lingered into April.
Forecasters said the protester was correct that winter should have begun winding down in March, but they said things were about to change for the better.
"Temperatures will be positive and everything will thaw fast," center deputy director Dmitry Kiktyov told the RIA Novosti news agency. "We are meeting him halfway."
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