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Around Slovakia year in review

Frogs face hazardous mating trek
Two men drown in septic tank
Rare surgical operation deemed a success
220 year-old cow's heart found in chapel
Five tiger cubs poisoned
Lexa smokes 50 cigarettes a day, gains 6 kilograms
Hungarian politician burned to death

Staré Hory
Frogs face hazardous mating trek

Almost 500 frogs in search of mating locations were crushed last April by passing vehicles on a five-kilometre stretch of road near Staré Hory, said Miroslav Saniga a researcher at the Slovak Academy of Science.
Masses of frogs embark on a mating exodus every spring, Saniga explained. Unfortunately, the ideal "place of love" is often located in waterways running alongside paved roads.
Most frogs in Slovakia have been classified as endangered species, Saniga said. Therefore, drivers in the region should pay special attention during the night time hours to road-frog-populations because frogs generally prefer to mate under the stars.


Michalovce
Two men drown in septic tank

Two men from Michalovce died while trying to repair a submerged pump in a family septic tank on May 12. According to town fire chief Gabriel Fabian, 28-year-old Robert B. lost consciousness from the overwhelming concentration of carbon disulphide and subsequently collapsed into the tank.
When his wife called for help, 39-year-old Peter T. tried to save him, but also lost consciousness and fell into the tank. Both men were eventually pulled out dead by fire fighters, who said that drowning had been the cause of death.


Košice
Rare surgical operation deemed a success

A 15 member surgical team at Louis Pasteur Faculty Hospital in Košice performed a rare micro-surgical operation in which a woman who had lost all of her fingers had her toe transplanted to her hand on February 9. The surgery preserved the patient's "basic manual functions" excluding that of the small finger, said Doctor Štefan Guzanin.
The woman's second toe on her right foot was removed and attached to the residual stump of the left hand thumb during the surgery, which lasted 14 hours and was performed under a microscope. Guzanin said that the procedure was particularly difficult because bones and nerves had to be joined, as well as tendons, arteries, and capillaries one millimetre in diameter which are crucial to maintaining hand function and revitalising nerve sensitivity.
The surgery enabled the patient to hold objects and resume her occupation as a hair-dresser.


Dubnica nad Váhom
220 year-old cow's heart found in chapel

Workers renovating the chapel of the Modry Kamen castle in southern Slovakia unearthed a 220 year-old cow's heart buried one meter under the altar. The organ was found in a gold and bronze box preserved in salts.
Local historians explained that the heart had been buried to fight off a plague epidemic which had killed hundreds of cows in the eighteenth century. The window overlooking the altar bears the image of the Virgin Mary, and was reputed to have "miraculous powers."
Castle representatives began exhibiting the cow's heart in the castle museum at the start of the tourist season on May 1.



Two tiger cubs were poisoned in August by an unkown culprit in Senec.
photo: TASR

Senec
Five tiger cubs poisoned

Five tiger cubs born and raised in captivity in Senec were poisoned when a visitor dropped the toxic micro-organism Clostridium botulinum into their water dish in August. Three of the tigers lived, but two did not survive the poisoning.
At the tigers' home in Senec, visitors have traditionally been allowed to have their photographs taken with the big cats every Saturday and Sunday. It is believed that the culprit slipped the poison into the tiger's water during one of these photo-ops.
Dušan Hlinka, director of the State Veterinary Association, said that investigating officials had proof the poisoning was intentional.


Nitra
Lexa smokes 50 cigarettes a day, gains 6 kilograms

Justice Minister Ján Čarnogurský visited former Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) Director and HZDS MP Ivan Lexa in his Nitra prison cell on June 2 to listen to the prisoner's complaints about the conditions of his imprisonment.. Čarnogurský, however, was unsympathetic, and told Lexa that his conditions were equal to those of the other inmates and "even slightly better" concerning medical treatment.
Lexa's lawyers said on June 8 that their client had been briefly hospitalised at the jail hospital in Trenčin, although they did not specify why. The press agency SITA reported that Lexa's condition was "not serious," and that he was reported to have high blood pressure aggravated by the fact that since being incarcerated April 15, he "has gained 6 kilograms, smokes 50 cigarettes a day, and [hasn't] exercised."
Lexa had been jailed pending prosecution on charges of abuse of power and fraud from his time as SIS Director; police had feared that he would try to intimidate witnesses if allowed to remain at liberty. He was released by a Bratislava District I court order on July 15.


Nové Zamky
Hungarian politician burned to death

Zoltan Saray, the first deputy chairman of the Nové Zamky district for the ruling Hungarian coalition party (SMK), was doused with petrol and set on fire by an unknown assailant on September 9. Saray was rushed to Ružinov hospital in Bratislava where he was treated for severe burns covering 90% of his body, but died the next day from his wounds.
According to Jozef Szaraz, an SMK regional official, Saray was 32 years old and "a non-confrontational character whom people liked." The SMK had recently decided to grant him a promotion to a high party office, he added.


Compiled by Chris Togneri
from SITA and TASR.

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