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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Czech seal caught in Germany
Myska the seal in her pen with another seal, Bara
Myska covered 30km four times less than Gaston (Picture: AP)
A seal which escaped from a zoo in Prague during last week's floods, has been caught in Germany, after a five-day journey covering more than 120 kilometres (75 miles).

The 12-year-old South African seal named Gaston was captured just north of Dresden, after a pursuit involving Czech and German helicopters, and teams of rescuers in rafts.

Map of the region, showing the seal's route

He will now be re-united with his mate and two-month-old son, christened Melon, at the zoo where he has spent 11 years of his life.

The good news followed the earlier discovery in good health of a hippopotamus, who had been missing, presumed dead.

Prague's zoo lost many animals in the floods, some of which were put down to prevent them drowning or endangering the public.

Breakout

Taking advantage of floods, three seals in the zoo had made a break for freedom and swam from their tank.

Kadir the elephant in the Prague zoo, before he was put down
Kadir the elephant was not so lucky
Two of them were soon captured - one, named Myska, was discovered on Sunday near the town of Melnik, some 30km north of Prague.

Daredevil Gaston, however, crossed into Germany and swam down the swollen River Elbe towards the North Sea.

A fourth seal reportedly stayed in its tank and refused to join the breakout.

Deaths

Waters from the River Vltava have swamped large parts of Prague, forcing thousands to flee their homes - although much of the city's historic centre was spared.

Kadir, an elephant popular with zoo-goers, became trapped by rising waters and could not be rescued.

Zookeepers decided to shoot it rather than let it drown.

One hippopotamus had to be put down and a gorilla was feared to have drowned.

But zookeepers were pleased to find another hippopotamus alive and hiding in the elephant pavilion.

On Saturday, zoo workers coaxed the 18-year-old animal out of its hiding place and into a corral.


European havoc

Germany ravaged

Prague drama

Freak phenomenon?

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TALKING POINT
See also:

14 Aug 02 | Europe
13 Aug 02 | Business
13 Aug 02 | Entertainment
10 Aug 02 | Europe
09 Aug 02 | Europe
09 Aug 02 | Europe
13 Aug 02 | Europe
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