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Truck destroys Easter Island statue; Zoos, aquariums stream footage

  • TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
                                The Moais are seen at the ceremonial platform Ahu Tongariki at Rapa Nui National Park in September. A Moai statue was badly damaged earlier this month by a pickup truck.

    TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    The Moais are seen at the ceremonial platform Ahu Tongariki at Rapa Nui National Park in September. A Moai statue was badly damaged earlier this month by a pickup truck.

Truck destroys Easter Island statue

A privately-owned pickup truck has destroyed one of Easter Island’s world-famous archeological treasures, the imposing and mysterious Moai statues. The vehicle, reportedly belonging to a Chilean man, slammed into the ancient stone monument earlier this month, reported Chilean newspaper, El Mercurio.

Local authorities reportedly believe the collision to have been the result of a brake failure that sent the truck sliding downhill and into the Moai and the platform upon which it stood. No one was inside the truck when it crashed.

Although the destruction is assumed to have proceeded from an accident, the truck’s owner was promptly arrested and charged with damaging a national monument.

In a statement to CNN, Camilo Rapu, president of the Mau Henua community — which is responsible for the care and preservation of the island’s archaeological and historical sites, including the Moai — said, “The damage is incalculable.”

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed island’s mayor, Pedro Pablo Petero Edmunds Paoa, is reportedly calling for stronger regulations to prevent vehicles from operating in such close proximity to any of the nearly 1,000 carved Moai monoliths on the island.

The Moai are not only important historically and archaeologically, but also hold spiritual value for the Rapa Nui, Easter Island’s original inhabitants.

Carved between the 13th and 16th centuries out of basalt rock from an extinct volcano, the purpose of the Moai largely remains a mystery, although it’s supposed that they represent ancestral figures.

Zoos, aquariums stream footage

As the COVID-19 virus causes people around the world to stay at home and self-quarantine, popular tourist attractions are being forced to temporarily shut down. However, several zoos and aquariums across the United States are encouraging people to welcome their beloved exotic animals into their homes through online streaming.

Zoos and aquariums broadcasting webcam footage of their housed animals is nothing new; a quick online search will bring up dozens of webcam feeds from various establishments. However, the worldwide quarantines are prompting creativity in order to lift the spirits of the masses.

For example, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has recently allowed three rockhopper penguins, named Wellington, Edward and Annie, to roam the facility while employees documented their exploration.

“We want these guys to be out and around … comfortable in their homes,” said Steve Aibel, the senior director of animal behavior and training.

Meanwhile, over at the Cincinnati Zoo, a series of “Home Safari” livestreams are being shown every weekday. The series kicked off on March 16 with Fiona, the zoo’s world-­famous 3-year-old Nile hippo. Fiona herself became an online celebrity when she survived all odds after being born premature and underweight.

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