April 29 The global recession manifests itself in big and small ways, most gloomy, some quirky and often reflecting the inventive human spirit. Here is a look at some signs of the times.
* Lemurs and porcupines are among the animals that will be fired from New York's Bronx Zoo, where a $15 million budget shortfall has prompted authorities to close four exhibits and ship out hundreds of animals. The largest U.S. urban zoo is shutting its World of Darkness, which houses bats, caimans, porcupines and primates and the Rare Animal Range, home to deer and guanaco, a relative of the llama. Exhibits of the Arabian Oryx and blesbok, two types of antelope, will also be closed, the New York Post reported. The cuts are expected to lead to human layoffs as well.
* The recession threw up a slew of pithy phrases, among them "zombie banks" (sucking the life out of the financial markets) and "staycations" (because no one can afford a getaway). With recent hints of a recovery, the new hot phrase is "green shoots." The expression took root after U.S. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke used it in an interview. But it has a downside: sometimes green shoots turn out to be weeds.
* Beijing's Silk Street Market, known for its counterfeit designer wear, is offering 20 million yuan ($2.9 million) in vouchers to boost depressed sales. The vouchers, with a face value of 50 yuan or 100 yuan, are valid in all outlets at the market. Shoppers can use them after bargaining over price with vendors, said Wang Zili, general manager of the market.
* Death may be recession-proof but the funeral industry is not. The U.S. National Funeral Directors Association said funeral home revenue was falling as more people choose cremation, less expensive caskets and shorter viewing periods. The Miami Herald said some funeral homes were cutting costs by not buying new hearses, which cost about $80,000, and laundering their own sheets and towels. Sheet metal urns were outselling copper and bronze ones and mahogany stained coffins were replacing solid mahogany caskets.
* A Serbian trade union official chopped off his finger and ate it to show how desperate he and other workers were over wages that in some cases have not been paid in years. "We, the workers, have nothing to eat, we had to seek some sort of alternative food and I gave them an example," Zoran Bulatovic, a union leader at a textile factory in Novi Pazar, told Reuters. Bulatovic cut off most of the pinky finger on his left hand with a hacksaw. "It hurt like hell," he said.
* As U.S. bankruptcies rise, New York attorney Steven Horowitz and children's book illustrator Gideon Kendall are publishing a comic strip called "Bankruptcy Bill" on the website www.bankruptcybill.wordpress.com. One strip shows attorneys in bikinis and swimming shorts yelling "surf's up" while they ride a tidal wave that washes away the headquarters of General Motors, Washington Mutual and Lehman Brothers. (Compiled by David Storey; Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Nick Zieminski and Chelsea Emery in New York; editing by Chris Wilson)