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Sylvana Welski and Pauley
Sylvana Welski and Pauley
Anett Seidler*

BERLIN - It's an animal story with a happy ending, five years in the making.

A Berlin woman who’d lost her tabby cat "Pauley" in 2008 had an almost unthinkable surprise waiting for her at the capital's Tierheim animal shelter. "When I got the letter a few days ago from the shelter saying my cat had been found, I couldn’t believe it,” said owner Sylvana Welski.

When she recovered her last weekend, Welski's tears were so profuse that even shelter personnel were moved. The cat, described as "reserved," recognized the 33-year-old immediately, scampering straight over to her.

After Pauley climbed out an open window that day in late 2008, Welski searched for days, hanging “Missing” posters around her neighborhood. She also contacted the Amtliche Tiersammelstelle (official animal collection point) but to no avail.

ID chip

Even if Pauley had seeminly disappeared forever, she was not forgotten: Welski had gotten her as a very young kitten in early 2006 and bottle-fed her, so she was particularly attached to the cat.

Meanwhile Pauley had indeed been found by a man who lived only a few hundred meters away, and was apparently unaware that it is mandatory to call authorities to report found animals. "The first thing to do is notify the Amtliche Tiersammelstelle or the police and they will send someone to collect a lost animal," says Wolfgang Apel, president of the Berlin animal protection association.

It was only when the finder had Pauley sterilized a few weeks back, and the tabby no longer got along with his other cats after the operation, that he brought her to the shelter. It was then that staff were surprised to find that Pauley had a chip identifying Welski as the owner.

Although Pauley could have been returned immediately after she disappeared, Welski says she bears the man no grudge. "Pauley has been doing well all these years, that’s the important thing. I’m just so happy to have her back."

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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