Thursday, February 11, 2016


Dog takes baby opossums out for walkies

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Squirrel walks across the grass

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Lawyer was bombarded with texts from people trying to claim free burritos

Hundreds of burrito-seeking people have mistakenly inundated the cell phone of a lawyer from Bethesda, Maryland, after a Chipotle giveaway listed a phone number only one digit different from his. On Monday, Chipotle announced a free burrito promotion as they opened their restaurants late for a safety meeting. Entrants simply had to text the word "raincheck" to 888-222.

But lawyer Hank Levine, who, ironically, specialises in telecommunications, has a seven-digit number very similar to the one that the burrito chain publicised. So customers who mistakenly added an extra “2” to the specified number had their messages redirected to Levine. And so the texts started coming. "I got the first text and it was just the text with the words 'rain check,'" Levine said. "I texted back with a question mark.

"And the person texted back, 'I want my burrito.'" The Chipotle fan explained what was going on, and Levine soon realised it wasn't going to end there. "I said 'Gee, this could be a problem maybe,'" said Levine. He soon began getting about 15 texts an hour, then a text was coming in every minute or two, all in all, he received more than 350 of them. Levine has tried to respond to the senders.

"Mostly they've been sympathetic or polite or funny," he said. He said Chipotle has been apologetic for his inconvenience and are sending him free coupons. In the meantime, although the promotion has ended, he's continuing to respond to most of the texts he's received. "I've learned a lot of things about Chipotle," he said, "and the most interesting thing by far is that people really hate being charged for guacamole."

Indian police to use slingshots loaded with marbles and chilli balls against violent protesters

Police in India's Haryana state say they will soon begin using slingshots to control violent protesters. Policemen are being trained to use the weapons, despite concerns over their safety for crowd control.

Abhishek Jorwal, chief of police in Haryana's Jind district, said that the slingshots "were made after a lot of research and development". The "specially-designed" slingshots would be in addition to batons, tear gas and other weapons currently in use.

Mr Jorwal said the "idea is to avoid the use of lethal weapons against the protesters". "Officers have been instructed to use slingshots and tear gas shells, and keep guns and bullets as the last option." Marbles and chilli balls will be used as ammunition for the slingshots.

"Marbles and chilli balls won't cause any permanent damage but will pack enough punch to push protesters back," he said. Handmade weapons, such as slingshots, are rarely used as a weapon by security forces in India. There are concerns marbles and other objects fired from police catapults could badly injure civilians.

Monkey accused of thieving caught, bound and caged before being relocated

A monkey that had been accused of thieving was recently detained in India. The primate, a macaque, was caught by a professional monkey catcher after frustrated locals complained it had been stealing food and tearing up pillows for six months.

A crowd gathered and cheered as the monkey was bound with its hands tied and a rope around its neck before it was put into a cage. It was one of three or four monkeys to have been tearing around the community in the Mumbai's Sion district and residents recently complained to a local municipal councillor about the unwelcome guests.

Monkeys, who are revered in Hindu-majority India, often trash gardens, offices, residential rooftops and even attack people viciously for food - but are rarely subjected to such public humiliation. When locals spotted one of the primates on Friday morning they called a monkey catcher who hot-footed it to the housing block and laid a trap with fruit.

At one point a passer-by patted it on the forehead, only for the monkey to hiss aggressively before showing him a full set of sharp teeth. Later the restraints were removed from the monkey and it was placed in the cage, where it ate grapes and looked forlornly at the crowd of staring onlookers. The monkey is now set for a new life in the countryside north of Mumbai. "We will make sure it's fit and when it is we will release him on the outskirts of Thane," an official in the Maharashtra state forest department said.

Town invaded by swarm of moths

Thousands of moths have invaded Winton in western Queensland, Australia, feasting on fresh grass that sprouted from recent rainfall.

Winton resident Frank Standfast was on his way to work early on Wednesday morning when he discovered the swarm under a light post in front of the hardware store. Mr Standfast said he had never seen anything like it. "I've never seen it that thick, but it was obviously under a pretty bright street light," he said.

"We presume because there's actually some green grass here. It hasn't rained here for a week or two, but now we've got some grass we seem to have a heap of moths." He said council workers spent hours trying to clean them up. Mr Standfast said the town's baker, whose shop is across the road from the hardware store, said the swarm looked like a "cloud".

"[The baker] comes to work at like two o'clock in the morning and he didn't know what it was when he come to work," he said. "In the light it was just like a cloud - he thought it was like a haze or something, he reckons. It was when they were all still flying because it was dark."

With short video clip.

Passenger's dried cow pat intercepted at airport

A passenger from Malaysia declared a dried cow pat to Ministry for Primary Industries staff at Auckland Airport in New Zealand last week. The discovery has been described by the government agency as one of the most unusual interceptions of the summer.

It had been brought into New Zealand for burning at a Hindu temple at Otahuhu, said Dave Sims, MPI Auckland Airport manager. "Cowpats are made by mixing fresh cow faeces with hay.

We can't permit them to enter New Zealand as they could contain unwanted seeds, parasites or even plant or animal diseases that could harm the livelihood of farmers and growers." Cow pats have been used for centuries to light fires in India.

Mr Sims said it was rare for MPI to intercept cow pats, but they may become more common in the future. "Cows pats are now a commercial product. There's even a website selling them and some customers want gift wrapping. The great thing in this case is the passenger declared the pat. They did everything we asked to safeguard New Zealand's biosecurity."

Woman who fell 60ft from upper floor of store escaped serious injury due to divan intervention

A woman who plummeted 60ft from a balcony at a John Lewis department store escaped serious injury after a bed miraculously broke her fall. Shoppers watched on in horror after the 60-year-old plunged two storeys to the basement of the store in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, on Monday afternoon. It is understood that she suffered only minor injuries to her hip and spine after amazingly landing on a display bed.

Scores of staff and shoppers are believed to have witnessed the woman’s horrific fall. Police and emergency services raced to the store just before 4pm after several 999 calls reporting how the woman had fallen from the upper levels of the store. She is understood to have fallen over a glass balcony by the store’s escalators. Shoppers watched in horror as staff gave the woman first aid before paramedics arrived. Witnesses reported hearing screaming after the incident.

The shop was closed by bosses for the remaining four hours as police began investigating. CCTV footage has been handed to officers, who were seen talking to managers behind closed doors on Monday evening. Staff at the department store are understood to have been offered support by John Lewis bosses after a handful witnessed the harrowing incident. Several ambulances, including a helicopter and three hazard response teams, were scrambled to the scene.

The woman was taken to Wythenshawe Hospital by land ambulance - and it was soon confirmed she had survived the huge fall. She remains in hospital for treatment, but is understood to be stable. A spokeswoman for GMP said: "Her injuries are not thought to be serious and it appears that she fell onto a bed." A spokeswoman for John Lewis said: "We are glad that the customer's injuries are not thought to be serious, and wish her all the best for her recovery."

Reward offered for return of terrapin who thinks he’s a dog

A terrapin who thinks he’s a dog was snatched from his home in Bromley, south east London, last month, and his owners are offering a £150 reward for his safe return. Nadia and Peter Chan’s home was burgled at about 6pm on January 22. The intruders took Mr Chan’s car, all of the house keys, mobile phones and cash – as well as Jim Jam the terrapin.

Jim Jam has been with the Chans for 20 years and roams freely around the house, only going into water in the morning and evening for his feeding time and climbing up the side of the tank when he’s ready to come out. Mrs Chan said: “I never thought in a million years that of all the things someone would take, it would be Jim Jam. I don’t know why they took him.

“It is a bit unusual to see a terrapin walking about the house. He thinks he’s a dog – he likes to be treated just like them. He was very unhappy in the tank.” Jim Jam even has his own dog’s bed next to pet staffie Pippa’s, where he sleeps under a blanket. It all started with him imitating the couple’s two chihuahuas, who he lived alongside for 16 years.

But despite Jim Jam’s reluctance to live life as a terrapin, he does have particular reptilian requirements. Mrs Chan said: “I just hope he’s being looked after – if he isn’t put in water his skin gets very dry. He’s actually a very intelligent pet. He didn’t eat for a week when our chihuahuas died. He does have feelings. Everything else can be replaced – but not our pet. He’s not worth much money but he’s valuable to us.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Are we nearly there yet?

Cheeky baby monkey pesters cat

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Beer-battered fish explanation didn't save man from his 10th drunken driving conviction

A jury in Adams County, Wisconsin, found a 76-year-old Friendship man, who said during a traffic stop that he smelled of alcohol because he had just eaten beer-battered fish, guilty on Monday of his 10th offence of drunken driving. John H. Przybyla faces a maximum of 12½ years in prison.

Portage County Circuit Judge Alan White, acting as a substitute judge in the Adams County case, ordered a pre-sentencing investigation. No date for sentencing has been scheduled. According to court documents, at 2:27pm on Oct. 12, 2014, an Adams County deputy saw a vehicle make a U-turn on Highway 13 in Dell Prairie.

The deputy followed the vehicle and saw that it had a broken tail lamp. The deputy checked the licence plate and learned Przybyla owned the vehicle, and he had a revoked driver's licence. As Przybyla went around a curve in the highway, the deputy saw Przybyla's vehicle go over the centre line. The deputy stopped the vehicle. The deputy noticed an odour of alcohol on Przybyla's breath and asked him how much he had been drinking.

Przybyla said he hadn't but had been at a fish fry on State 82 and had eaten beer-battered fish. The deputy arrested Przybyla and took him to Moundview Memorial Hospital in Adams. Przybyla refused to take a blood test, stating it was against his religion. The deputy got a warrant to conduct the test. A preliminary breath test showed Przybyla had a 0.062 blood-alcohol concentration. For Wisconsin residents with three or more drunken driving convictions, the legal limit is 0.02 percent.

Man accused of throwing alligator through drive-through window

A Florida man threw it through the restaurant’s drive-through window, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission incident report. It happened in October, but the suspect was just taken into custody by US Marshals.

FWC officials say 23-year-old Joshua James from Jupiter, pulled up for his order and after a server handed over a drink and turned around James reached into the back of his truck and tossed the 3-and-a-half foot gator through the drive-through window at Wendy’s just east of Loxahatchee in Royal Palm Beach.

The incident report showed a picture of the gator inside the restaurant. James faces charges of aggravated assault and unlawful possession and transportation of an alligator. FWC said James admitted to picking up the gator on the side of Southern Boulevard and taking it to the fast food restaurant.

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During his first court appearance on Tuesday morning a judge ordered James to stay out of all Wendy's restaurants, to avoid contact or possession with any animals other than his mother's dog, to undergo a mental health evaluation and to avoid possessing any weapons. If he fails a random drug and alcohol test his bond will be rescinded. The alligator was later released in a nearby canal.

Sparrow followed woman home and has become a member of the family

A sparrow has set up home with an elderly couple in Fukaya, in Japan's Saitama prefecture, becoming the newest member of their family.

Yoshiko Fujino said she first saw the bird, named Pee Chan, in mid-November while working as a traffic guide for local school children. It followed her home, resting on her shoulder and not wanting to leave.

"He's like a family member, he's very comforting. It's fun, coming home to a sparrow," she said. "My grandchildren have grown up, and there's none who are still small, so I don't know how to say it clearly, but he's like a family member."

Fujino assumes the sparrow, which appears comfortable in the surroundings, is wild, but also says she does not rule out the possibility the bird was once a household pet.

With video. Or you can watch it at YouTube.

Breastfeeding mother amazed by orangutans' reaction during zoo visit

A breastfeeding mother has had an emotional encounter with two orangutans at Melbourne Zoo in Australia. Elizabeth was at the zoo on Sunday with her family, celebrating her three-year-old daughter's birthday. Her 13-week-old son Eli was hungry so she walked around the corner to breastfeed him in private.

That is when two orangutans came over to watch. "I went around the corner to be a bit private and I was breast feeding and this orangutan locked eyes with me and came over to check out what was going on," she said. "It started off with just one, then another one came over who seemed to be a bit older and shooed this one off for a little while.

"And she [the older one] came over and gave me a bit of a nod." Elizabeth said she felt the nod was significant because she had been unable to breastfeed her first child. "It was absolutely amazing," she said. "I felt so proud and I felt she was proud of me and … I don't know. It was just amazing."

Other zoo patrons saw what was going on, and a crowd gathered as the encounter continued. "They were all just in awe of what was going on," Elizabeth said. Her baby has red hair and Elizabeth said she thought maybe the orangutan thought she was nursing a baby orangutan. After the encounter Elizabeth and her family joined up to be members of Melbourne Zoo.

Goat arrested for grazing in judge's garden

An errant goat was detained for grazing in a judge's house in the Korea district of Chhattisgarh, central India. The incident followed earlier warnings given to the goat's owner.

Along with the owner, the animal has been booked under charges which carry a two to seven year prison term and a fine. The police arrested the goat and its owner Abdul Hasan, around 350 km from state capital Raipur. The police said that the goat had committed this offence repeatedly.

"The judge's bungalow has an iron gate and the goat used to jump over it and enter," said Assistant Sub-Inspector R. Srivastava. "The peon, who maintains the garden, had warned the owner of the goat many times. So, today he filed a complaint and we arrested the goat and its owner.

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"A case has been registered under Sections 447 and 427," he added. Recalling the series of events, the owner of the goat said that his animal was taken to the police station after she entered the premises of the judge's house. "She had grazed flowers and vegetables from the garden. They brought me to the police station today and told me to take the goat," Hasan said.

Dog-sized rabbit is looking for a new home

The Scottish SPCA says this massive seven-month-old rabbit, which is the size of a dog, needs a new home. Atlas is being cared for by staff in Cardonald, Glasgow, after his owner could no longer look after him.

The charity is appealing for potential new owners for the continental giant rabbit to get in touch. "Atlas is already about the size of a westie and is still young with some growing to do," said centre manager Anna O'Donnell.

"He is a very friendly rabbit who loves attention and getting cuddles. Atlas is also an inquisitive boy who makes everyone laugh with his mischievous character. "We are looking for a specific home for Atlas due to his breed and size. "

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A standard rabbit hutch won't do so his new owner will need plenty of space for him. "Atlas needs an owner with the knowledge to properly care for him, so ideally someone who has kept a continental giant before. If anyone is interested in offering him a home, they should contact the Scottish SPCA.

Council's rapid response cleansing team forced into action over prodigious quantity of excrement

Exeter City Council's rapid response cleansing team swung into action when a "considerable amount of excrement" was found on a pavement.

The team were alerted to the discovery next to the First and Last bus stop on Cowick Street last Friday by St Thomas councillor Rob Hannaford, after worried residents and businesses contacted him.

Cllr Hannaford said: "This was just horrendous; the mess was everywhere. Because of the prodigious quantity we were unsure if it was animal or human waste. As this is a such busy area I requested that a crew come out and action it as priority, which they did.

"It was all made much worse as the area has several well used hairdressing salons and it was very degrading for many local ladies who had come out for their regular appointments to then have to come into contact with the mess. If anyone has any information about this incident please contact the police."

Lifetime's supply of crisps offered for return of stolen replica Postman Pat van and cat

A lifetime's supply of crisps or £2,000 is being offering for the safe return of a replica Postman Pat van. The van, owned by a Corkers Crisps, was taken late last month. Postman Pat's black and white cat was on board and is also missing. Ross Taylor, who owns the firm, based between Little Downham and Pymoor in Cambridgeshire, says everyone at the firm is "gutted" following the theft of the distinctive red vehicle. Thieves stole the van, and the toy black and white cat which was inside it, some time between January 17 and 31.

Ross is now so desperate to get the vehicle back that he is offering a £2,000 reward for its safe return – or a lifetime's supply of crisps - but he does not know how many crisps that might be. Ross said: "We're all gutted by the theft and desperately want the vehicle back. I bought the car, a 1972 William microcar, at a classic car auction four years ago. We paid £800 for it and my mechanic spent months and months restoring it. He fitted it with a Honda quad engine and it really is superb. I'd say it is worth around £5,000 or £6,000 now."

Ross said the vehicle, which came complete with a soft toy of Pat's cat Jess and an old air raid siren fitted to it for added affect, was well known not just in Cambridgeshire but across the whole of the UK. The vehicle was in an open outbuilding on the farm when it was stolen. Ross said: "It's light enough for two people to lift so they would've got away with it quite easily and quickly. I should say they put it onto the back of a truck or a van and then just drove off. I don't think for one minute we'll get it back but you never know.

"I'd urge everyone in the area to keep an eye out for it; it's not as if you can miss it." As an alternative to a £2,000 reward, anyone knowing the whereabouts of Postman Pat's van and cat could claim "a lifetime's supply of crisps". Asked how many bags constituted "a lifetime's supply", Mr Taylor said: "I have no idea. I just really want my car back." Police are urging anyone with any information to call them. Speaking on the Policing East Cambridgeshire Facebook page , a spokesman said: "While Postman Pat is now struggling to deliver the post we feel confident that this distinctive vehicle will be recognised if it is seen out and about."