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The Weird Week in Review

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Rare Tiger has No Stripes

A six-month-old tiger cub at Cango Wildlife Ranch, near Cape Town, South Africa is the rarest of the rare -a white tiger with no stripes. Zookeepers weren't sure that the female cub named Fareeda was really stripeless until she reached six months of age, since young cubs sometimes grow into their stripes. Fareeda is the first white Bengal tiger to be born in captivity in South Africa. White Bengals are not albinos, but the result of a rare mutation that is passed genetically.

Burglar Bear Prefers Chocolates

A couple in San Bernardino County, California arrived at their home last week to find a bear rummaging through their refrigerator! The homeowners called authorities, but the bear left before sheriff's deputies arrived. The bear had bypassed nutritious vegetables in the refrigerator, but had eaten a two-pound box of chocolates. It had also tried in vain to open a bottle of champagne.

Excuse for Arson: Michael Jackson's Death

Amanda Jarvis of Lorain, Connecticut was arrested Sunday morning in connection with a fire started in ladies room of a local bar. After Jarvis reported the fire, the bartender checked surveillance video that pointed to Jarvis as the cause of the fire. She was found soon afterward at another bar.

When asked why she set the items on fire, she replied, "I felt stressed because my apartment had recently caught on fire, and because of the death of Michael Jackson".

Hippo Stuck in Water Tower

150hipponostrilsA hippopotamus in Alkmaar, South Africa was desperate for a dip to escape the heat, and climbed over ten foot walls to bathe in a water tower! Once in, he couldn't get out on his own. A farm worker spotted him -or rather, spotted two big nostrils poking out of the water. In a four-hour operation, a crew led by hippo hunter Chris Hobkirk drained the tank and enticed the hippo into a strong cage. The cage was then hauled out of the tank with a winch.

Drunk Carpentry Leads to Severed Penis

54-year-old Stuart Keen was performing a do-it-yourself project while intoxicated at his home in Wantage, England when he accidentally severed his penis with a saw. Doctors were able to reattach the organ. Mr. Stuart declined to make a statement, but his 84-year-old mother Edna said,

"I have spoken to him and he is quite embarrassed about the whole incident. I was in Somerset when it happened and got a call from the hospital.

"Stuart is a carpenter and uses sharp and sometimes dangerous tools.

"This was an unfortunate accident but these things happen all the time to people in his profession."

Students Go to Prom in Barbie Boxes

150_barbieboxesGoing to the prom in a limousine, a tank, or a helicopter is old hat, so two girls in England made a grand entrance of another kind -by having themselves wheeled into the event in 6-foot Barbie boxes. Sammy Burns and Megan Barton made the boxes from cardboard painted pink and completed the details with Barbie logos and bar codes. Relatives dressed as delivery men to wheel the two 16-year-olds into the Wyvern Technology College prom in Fair Oak, Hampshire, England. The boxes were equipped with fans to prevent overheating.

Build-A-Bear Toys Stuffed with Heroin

DEA agents raided a Build-A-Bear toy store in the Riverdale area of the Bronx Friday and found a heroin operation that moved the drug by hiding it inside the bears. Twelve people were arrested. Agents seized 33 pound of heroin, $150,000 in cash, and weapons.

"It's a huge shock," said Mario Amesqui, 54, who lives in the same building as one of the Riverdale apartments raided on Friday.

"My daughter has one of those toys. I'm very surprised something like that was going on right here and I'm especially surprised it was a Build-A-Bear."

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London's Sewer-Blocking 'Fatbergs' Are Going to Be Turned Into Biodiesel
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UK officials can't exactly transform the Whitechapel fatberg—a 143-ton trash mass lurking in London's sewer system—into treasure, but they can turn it into fuel. As The Guardian reports, Scottish biodiesel producer Argent Energy plans to convert parts of the noxious blockage into an environmentally friendly energy source.

For the uninitiated, fatbergs (which get their names from a portmanteau of "fat" and "icebergs") are giant, solid blobs of congealed fat, oil, grease, wet wipes, and sanitary products. They form in sewers when people dump cooking byproducts down drains, or in oceans when ships release waste products like palm oil. These sticky substances combine with floating litter to form what could be described as garbage heaps on steroids.

Fatbergs wash up on beaches, muck up city infrastructures, and are sometimes even removed with cranes from sewer pipes as a last resort. Few—if any—fatbergs, however, appear to be as potentially lethal as the one workers recently discovered under London's Whitechapel neighborhood. In a news release, private utility company Thames Water described the toxic mass as "one of the largest ever found, with the extreme rock-solid mass of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil weighing the same as 11 double-decker buses."

Ick factor aside, the Whitechapel fatberg currently blocks a stretch of Victorian sewer more than twice the length of two fields from London's Wembley Stadium. Engineers with jet hoses are working seven days a week to break up the fatberg before sucking it out with tankers. But even with high-pressure streams, the job is still akin to "trying to break up concrete," says Matt Rimmer, Thames Water's head of waste networks.

The project is slated to end in October. But instead of simply disposing of the Whitechapel fatberg, officials want to make use of it. Argent Energy—which has in the past relied on sources like rancid mayonnaise and old soup stock—plans to process fatberg sludge into more than 2600 gallons of biodiesel, creating "enough environmentally friendly energy to power 350 double-decker Routemaster buses for a day," according to Thames Water.

"Even though they are our worst enemy, and we want them dead completely, bringing fatbergs back to life when we do find them in the form of biodiesel is a far better solution for everyone," said company official Alex Saunders.

In addition to powering buses, the Whitechapel fatberg may also become an unlikely cultural touchstone: The Museum of London is working with Thames Water to acquire a chunk of the fatberg, according to BBC News. The waste exhibit will represent just one of the many challenges facing cities, and remind visitors that they are ultimately responsible for the fatberg phenomenon.

"When it comes to preventing fatbergs, everyone has a role to play," Rimmer says. "Yes, a lot of the fat comes from food outlets, but the wipes and sanitary items are far more likely to be from domestic properties. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish."

[h/t The Guardian]

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Restaurant Seeks Donations to Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center
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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’ve ever wondered where all those Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish that flew off shelves in the early 2000s have gone, take a look inside a Flying Fish restaurant. Each location of the southern seafood chain is home to its own Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center, and they’re always accepting new additions to the collection.

According to Atlas Obscura, the gimmick was the idea of Dallas-based restaurateur Shannon Wynne. He opened his flagship Flying Fish in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2002 when the Big Mouth Billy Bass craze was just starting to wind down. As people grew tired of hearing the first 30 seconds of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” for the thousandth time, he offered them a place to bring their wall ornaments once the novelty wore off. The Flying Fish promises to “house, shelter, love, and protect” each Billy Bass they adopt. On top of that, donors get a free basket of catfish in exchange for the contribution and get their name on the wall. The Little Rock location now displays hundreds of the retired fish.

Today there are nine Flying Fish restaurants in Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee, each with its own Adoption Center. There’s still space for new members of the family, so now may be the time to break out any Billy Basses that have been collecting dust in your attic since 2004.

And if you’re interested in stopping into Flying Fish for a bite to eat, don’t let the wall of rubber nostalgia scare you off: The batteries from all the fish have been removed, so you can enjoy your meal in peace.

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