Muslim ladies down under are finally making a splash — thanks to a new bathing suit known as the "burqini."
The Christian Science Monitor reports that the two-piece spandex ensemble is allowing young Muslim Australians to train to become lifeguards at Sydney's famed Bondi Beach.
"Normally, I'd wear cotton trousers and a top but they get very heavy in the water," said Mecca Laalaa, a trainee for Surf Life Saving Australia. "This meets our cultural requirements."
The suit — designed by Ahiida and available in "slim" and "modest" fits — has a built-in hijab, or head covering, and leaves only the wearer's face, hands and feet exposed.
The burqini has allowed Laalaa and a handful of other Muslim women to train with Australia's century-old lifesaving squad, though it does make it harder to swim than in a Western bathing suit.
"It's the biggest hurdle the girls face," said Tony Coffey, who trains the lifeguards. "But we can't do anything about it, it's part of the deal. They just need more intensive training."
Hello Kitty, When's the Next Train?
Commuters will need to brush off their mewing skills to get directions at one rail station in Kinokawa, Wakayama, in central Japan.
The Mainichi Daily News reports that the stationmaster of the Wakayama Electric Railway's Kishi Station is a 7-year-old cat named Tama. Two other cats were named as special deputy stationmasters.
A shop operator takes care of Tama, who often greets commuters wearing a railway cap at this unmanned station on the Kishigawa Line in this city of around 70,000. Officials say all three cats "work" for food.
And, Boy, Are My Legs Tired!
BURR RIDGE, Ill. (AP) — George Hood may have pedaled his way into the Guinness World Records book on Saturday night.
The 49-year-old Aurora resident began riding a stationary bike at the Five Seasons Sports Club in Burr Ridge at 4 a.m. Wednesday and surpassed the previous record of 82 hours by 8:28 p.m. Saturday. He stopped several minutes before midnight after completing his goal of 85 hours.
"He's very grateful — and very tired," said Matt Baron, a spokesman for Five Seasons.
Baron said Hood was talking and thanking his supporters right up to the end but was taken by paramedics to a hospital as a precaution after he got off the bike.
"He'll be under observation for a while, and they're going to administer fluids," Baron said.
The record of 82 hours was set last year by Brian Overkaer of Denmark.
Getting Hood's accomplishment into Guinness may take several weeks as officials need to certify it, Baron said.
As Hood neared the 82nd hour — and spun more than 1,000 miles — he sped up.
The Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor and 23-year federal law enforcement veteran had been averaging 12.7 mph. Coming down the final stretch, he cycled at 13.5 mph.
About 200 people gathered at the club to cheer him on.
Hood hoped the feat would help raise thousands for the Illinois chapter of COPS, an organization that helps the families of slain police officers. Illinois COPS president Jennifer Morales has said Hood could be the largest single fundraiser the local group has had.
Baron said Hood raised $25,000 for the group — $5,000 more than his goal.
Hood took a few brief power naps along the way. Guinness rules allow a five-minute break for every completed hour of cycling.
Too Many Cokes for This Young Polar Bear
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Koda, a young polar bear at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, was recovering from a root canal Monday.
The procedure was performed Sunday by Dr. Tom Klein, a veterinary dentist at Ohio State University, and Dr. David Regine, who normally works on human teeth at his practice in the Pittsburgh suburb of Bridgeville, Pa.
"The bear was very comfortable and so were we," Klein said, noting the 2-year-old bear was rendered unconscious with an anesthetic dart before the procedure.
"We're always concerned about that wearing off."
Koda's keepers noticed the problem last month, when the bear appeared to be lethargic. That is when they found his lower right quadrant mandibular canine — the big, fang-like tooth on the lower right side of his jaw — was chipped.
Animals in the wild have uncanny healing powers, but the infection in the bear's tooth could have spread to its jaw if left untreated, Klein said.
"He might have reached the point where the jaw would have been so infected, he loses it," Regine said.
The dentists prevented that by drilling into the tooth and removing the infected tissue — the five-inch root — during the one hour, 45-minute procedure. A permanent filling was then put in the bear's three-inch tooth.
The size of the bear's tooth required the dentists to improvise, because dental tools used on humans were not large enough. That is common when working on animals, Regine said.
"Some of the things I used were plumbing supplies," Regine said. "I used a turkey skewer. You have to use your imagination."
Koda and his brother, Nuka, arrived from the Denver Zoo in November. The young bears are the centerpiece of the Pittsburgh Zoo's new polar bear exhibit, which helped the facility set an attendance record last year.
The bears weigh about 600 pounds each but will grow to 1,600 pounds in a few years.
Nuka could be seen pacing anxiously after his brother was drugged with a dart and taken inside for surgery.
Zoo officials are not sure how the bear damaged the tooth, but Klein likened it to small children who fall and chip a tooth. Bears use their canine teeth to grasp objects, and Koda's keepers believe he may have broken the tooth playing with his brother.
Regine, who regularly volunteers at the zoo, will return later this week to check on Koda. Regine has worked on beavers, an alligator, a tiger and a lion in recent years. Zoo officials said this was their first polar bear root canal.
"I guess Koda's just going to grin and bear it," Regine said.
Allentown: Where Christmas Trees Go to Die
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — When Carol Lopez let her Labrador retriever out for the morning, the dog had an unusual number of tree trunks to attend to. Surrounding her aboveground backyard pool Lopez found 37 used Christmas trees.
"I had just woke up and boom, they're there and that's it," Lopez said Thursday.
Whoever put the trees there apparently took their time, neatly organizing and standing the trees upright.
Lopez said she called Allentown police, and an officer told her to call the city to have the trees removed. A city employee told her husband to drag the trees out of the backyard and they would be picked up free of charge, she said.
Lopez said she didn't know how someone climbed a tall wooden fence surrounding the yard, or got all the trees over it.
"People just don't have anything better to do," Lopez said. "That's someone who had time on their hands."
Compiled by FOXNews.com's Sara Bonisteel.
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