I Brake for Peacocks

It's official: Rio, Fla., will soon have peacock crossings.

Martin County commissioners voted last week to install road signs warning motorists to watch for wild peacocks crossing Dixie Highway (search) in the small town southeast of Port St. Lucie, the Palm Beach Post reported.

The spectacularly plumed birds' case was advanced by flower-shop owner Silvia Alonso, the self-described "peacocks' lawyer."

"To me, they are such a creation," Alonso said of the birds, descendants of escapees from actress Frances Langford's (search) estate nearby. Hundreds of the peacocks roam wild in Rio.

"[Langford] was here first with the birds, probably longer than most people who live here now," Julie Preast of the Rio Civic Club (search), which supported Alonso's efforts, told the Palm Beach Post. "They have pretty much become a part of the neighborhood."

Alonso's involvement with the fancy chickens began last year when a peahen was hit by a car outside her shop. She brought it inside to recuperate, and as it got better, dozens of its kin began flock around her flower store.

Some other residents aren't happy with peacock poop on their lawns and the birds' loud cries, but Alonso, who wears a peacock pendant around her neck, enjoys their company.

"Maybe they're screaming, 'What a beautiful day! I love Rio!'" she said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Stephanie L.

Bury Me Standing Up

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — An Australian company has been given approval to begin work on a cemetery where bodies will be buried vertically to save space and minimize impact on the environment, a spokesman said Thursday.

Tony Dupleix, director of Palacom (search), the company given permission for the cemetery, said the plan would involve no-frills burials, using a simple body bag rather than a casket.

"When you die, you are returned to the earth with a minimum of fuss and with no paraphernalia that would affect the environment," he said.

The cemetery, proposed for a field in Derrinallum, 110 miles west of the city of Melbourne, would feature 10-foot holes, Dupleix said. It reportedly is the first cemetery in Australia offering the option of being buried standing up.

Anna Jamieson, of the Darlington Cemetery Trust (search), which will manage the cemetery, said the plots would be ideal for environmentally minded people, but conceded it was unlikely to replace the time-honored horizontal interments.

"If you are interested in the environment, it's beautiful land on the Western District plains facing Mount Elephant (search)," she said. "Some people will think it's great but other people might prefer a traditional burial."

— Thanks to Out There reader Jennifer W.

400-Pound Woman Wins Beauty Contest

Hundreds of spectators gathered at the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo (search) in Thailand as 24 heavy beauty queens weighed in at the country's Miss Jumbo Queen 2005 (search), an event for women over 175 pounds.

Now in its ninth year, the annual event raises money to protect elephants in Thailand.

Tarnrarin Chansawang, at 18 among the youngest in the competition, won the top honor of Miss Jumbo Queen. Chansawang, 242 pounds, credited her smile with helping her take the grand prize.

Thanchanok Mekkeaw (search), 25, a university politics student, won the title for heaviest contestant, Miss Jumbo Universe at 400 pounds.

"I want to tell everybody that despite being fat, if we have confidence, we can be up on this stage and show everybody that we also have talents," Mekkeaw said.

It was Mekkeaw's third time participating in the contest, and she hopes to keep returning until she wins the coveted Miss Jumbo Queen title.

Chansawang planned to celebrate her victory with her friends — over a big meal.

Click in the photo box above to see a picture.

Emergency E-Mail Alerts Blocked as Spam

VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Emergency managers in Indian River County (search) thought the best way to get their message out was by e-mail, but AOL disagrees.

The Internet service provider is treating the emergency coordinator's address as a source of spam.

The idea was to offer quick alerts about hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather emergencies, and about 4,200 subscribers signed up for the service.

"In the 16 years I've been in this office, it is the No. 1 thing that best informs the public," said Nathan McCollum, the county's emergency management coordinator.

The problem started last year with the frequent alerts during the unusually busy hurricane season.

"Because we send out mail in large numbers, it becomes a pattern for spam senders," said Basil Dancy, a county computer software engineer.

The county is working with AOL to try to let the e-mails through.

Woman, 80, Carries Friend, 67, From Burning Building

HOPKINTON, R.I. (AP) — An 80-year-old woman rescued her 67-year-old neighbor from an apartment fire, carrying the ailing woman down two flights of stairs.

Madalene Lindill put Grace Brayman's arms around her neck and carried her on her back out of their elderly housing complex last Wednesday after Brayman accidentally ignited a fire in her apartment.

Lindill told WJAR-TV there was "nothing to it."

"I'm not a great person," she said. "You just don't think at the time."

Hope Valley-Wyoming (search) Fire Chief Fred Stanley described Lindill as "a small woman."

She told him she had served as an auxiliary firefighter in the 1960s in Plainfield, Conn.

"She had to be a spunky little character to do what she did," Stanley said.

Fire officials said the blaze started when Brayman, who was wearing an oxygen mask, lit a cigarette. That caused the mask to ignite, and the fire spread to a chair and carpet.

Brayman, the only person hurt, was released Thursday from a hospital.

Stanley said Lindill would receive a department citation given for acts of heroism.

Fire Department Gets Animal Oxygen Masks

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Man's best friend has a new friend in Fairfield — the fire department.

Firefighters have 15 new oxygen masks for dogs and cats that can be used to treat animals overcome by smoke inhalation during a fire.

"A pet's part of the family. I know, I have a dog and it's part of the family," Fire Chief Richard Felner said. "We're here to take care of families and their pets. That's what we do."

The Best Friends Pet Resort (search) chain donated the masks. The company has given about 450 sets of masks so far to fire departments in 11 states.

The masks come in three sizes, one for cats, one for small dogs and one for big dogs.

Compiled by FOX News' Paul Wagenseil.

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