Thousands of Rare Insects and Lizards Have Been Stolen From a Philadelphia Museum

A Mexican fireleg tarantula
A Mexican fireleg tarantula
Mike Baird, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A Philadelphia museum has been hit in a nefarious heist, and in this case, you probably don’t want to be the one who finds the stolen goods. Some 7000 insects, arachnids, and lizards (80 different species in all) have been stolen from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, according to The New York Times, and no one knows where the majority of those roaches, tarantulas, geckos, and other crawling creatures are. According to the museum's CEO, John Cambridge, it's the largest live insect heist in history.

Cockroaches and other creatures crawl on a man.
John Cambridge in the insectarium
Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion

Police have pointed to three current or former employees of the insectarium as the likely perpetrators, but several aspects of the heist are still unclear, including what day it took place. John Cambridge, the head of the insectarium, said the theft occurred on August 22, but also may have taken place over several days. The creatures are often moved from their displays for various reasons, like to be taken to educational programs, so the crime didn’t become apparent immediately, Cambridge told Gizmodo.

Security footage showed people leaving the museum with plastic containers holding the creepy cargo, which are worth an estimated $40,000 or more altogether. Oddly, the thieves also nailed two uniforms to the wall of the museum’s back storage room with knives.

Two blue uniforms stuck into a wall with knives
Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion

The missing animals make up somewhere around 80 to 90 percent of the insectarium’s collection. Entire colonies of roaches were taken in the theft, as were numerous endangered species. (None of the butterflies were taken.) A few of the stolen creatures have been returned by police, including a Mexican fireleg tarantula, but most remain missing. That list of includes a six-eyed sand spider, a reclusive, extremely venomous arachnid native to southern Africa. "I’m not hopeful to get these critters back at this point,” Cambridge told Mental Floss. “I’m under the impression that they’ve probably already sold a good number of them.”

For now, the insectarium has closed down its second and third floors while it rebuilds its collection and displays. Cambridge has also set up a GoFundMe page to raise money in the wake of the thefts. “I am determined to learn from this experience and then build a bigger and cooler place,” he says, adding that the insectarium has already received a number of donations of critters from across the country.

[h/t MNN]

Choupette, Karl Lagerfeld’s Beloved Cat, Will Inherit Part of the Late Designer’s Fortune

Vittorio Zunino Celotto, Getty Images
Vittorio Zunino Celotto, Getty Images

As the longtime creative director of Chanel and Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld made his fortune in high fashion. After the news broke yesterday that Lagerfeld had died in Paris at the age of roughly 85 (his exact birth year is disputed), some wondered who would inherit his estate. The fashion designer’s net worth is estimated to be between $200 and $240 million, according to different sources, but he never married or had children.

Lagerfeld didn’t live alone, though. The iconic designer shared his home with Choupette, a 7-year-old Birman cat whose name seems to be a play on ma choupette, a cutesy French term of endearment that translates to, literally, "my cabbage," but is used more like "my pumpkin." According to Marie Claire, the fluffy white feline will inherit a chunk of Lagerfeld’s fortune. This is on top of the amenities the cat has already been afforded: She reportedly has two maids, a personal chef, a bodyguard, and an iPad. She also gets weekly manicures and has her own Wikipedia page, Twitter account, and Instagram, with more than 200,000 followers on the photo platform.

Comment survivre dans un monde qui ronronne 😻 @technikart_mag

A post shared by Choupette Lagerfeld (@choupettesdiary) on

All this pampering hasn’t made her lazy, though. Choupette has somehow found time to model, create a makeup collection and fashion line, and “write” a book titled The Private Life of a High-Flying Fashion Cat. However, Lagerfeld forbade her from doing cat food commercials, because she is “too sophisticated” for that, obviously.

The designer had adopted her from a friend, model Baptiste Giabiconi, in 2011. In a 2018 interview with Numéro, Lagerfeld said he had named Choupette, among others, as an heir to his fortune (the others are presumably human).

However, even if Choupette does inherit a sizable portion of his wealth, she still won’t be the world’s wealthiest cat. Grumpy Cat (a.k.a. Tardar Sauce) is also a millionaire, even if she doesn't seem too pleased about it.

[h/t Marie Claire]

The 10 Most Valuable Beanie Babies That Could Be Hiding in Your Attic

Emmanuel Morales, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Emmanuel Morales, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Kids who collected (and resisted ripping the tags off) Beanie Babies in the 1990s were promised a massive return on their investment when they grew up. Decades later, the majority of the Ty toys aren’t worth much more money today than when they first hit shelves at the height of Beanie mania. But that doesn’t mean you should throw away the toys in your attic without giving them a second look. While they're hard to come by, there are a few rare Beanie Babies out there, like Valentino the bear, that can still earn you a small fortune on eBay. Here are the most valuable stuffed collectibles to look for.

1. Princess the Bear // Value: $10,000


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A post shared by BB Toy Store (@bbtoystore) on

The purple Princess Diana bear Beanie Baby quickly become iconic when Ty released it in 1997. A special edition created to raise money for The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund following Princess Diana’s death, it frequently ranks among the most expensive vintage Beanie Babies on eBay today. As of February 2019, there's one listed on the site for $600,000—but the true value of the item varies depending on what your bear is made of. Most Princess Beanie Babies that people bought in the 1990s were made with polyethylene (PE) pellets, and those ones are essentially worthless today. The much rarer bears stuffed with polyvinylchloride (PVC) pellets are more valuable: In January 2019, someone purchased a PVC Princess bear for $10,000.

2. McDonald’s International Bears // Value: $10,000

McDonald’s joined the Beanie Baby hype when it began including scaled-down versions of the toys in its Happy Meals in the 1990s. Collectors helped make Teenie Babies one of the chain’s most popular Happy Meal promotions in history up to that point, but like the full-sized Beanie Babies, most of the toys are worth nothing today. One exception is the International Bears collection. The McDonald’s-exclusive line of Teenie Beanie Babies included four bears representing four different countries —Britannia from Britain, Maple from Canada, Erin from Ireland, and Glory from the U.S. In January 2019, a Britannia bear in its original packaging sold for $10,000. (If you've been sitting on other McDonald's swag from your childhood, check out our list of the most valuable Happy Meal toys on eBay.)

3. Peace the Bear // Value: $5000

Peace the bear Beanie Baby
Lawrence G. Miller, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The Peace bear Beanie Baby is unique for several reasons: It was the first Beanie Baby with an embroidered emblem; it had many tag variations during its run; and its tie-dye pattern meant that no two bears were identical. Peace bears in mint condition can sell for up to $5000 on eBay.

4. Snort the Red Bull // Value: $6300

In 1997, Ty quietly replaced their red bull named Tabasco with a red bull named Snort to avoid copyright infringement. Today pristine versions of the bull Beanie Baby can sell for as much as $6300 at online auctions.

5. Claude the Crab // Value: $9000

Claude the Crab Beanie Baby
Lawrence G. Miller, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

First released in 1997, most versions of this tie-dye crab aren’t especially valuable, but a Claude with rare manufacturing errors may be worth something. A Claude Beanie Baby with numerous flaws, including a tag with a missing star, was recently auctioned off for $9000.

6. Valentino the Bear // Value: $42,300

Valentino the bear Beanie Baby
Lawrence G. Miller, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Valentino is one of the most valuable of the Beanie Baby bears. If you own a rare version with an error, you may be sitting on tens of thousands of dollars. In January 2019, a Valentino with every error (brown nose instead of black, white star on the tag instead of yellow, PVC pellets, and multiple typos on the tag) sold on eBay for $42,300. Even more common forms of the bear can earn you a nice bundle of cash: A mint-condition Valentino without errors was purchased for $1000 on eBay in December 2018.

7. Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant // Value: $2500

Peanut the baby-blue elephant is the Beanie Baby that helped catapult the brand to prominence, but it wasn’t the first version of the toy that Ty made. Peanut was originally royal blue; after a few months of poor sales, the company changed the color to a lighter shade, and its popularity skyrocketed. Today the royal-blue Peanut is in a much different position—it's one of the most sought-after Beanie Babies around. One sold for $2500 in 2018.

8. Iggy the Iguana // Value: $5000

Iggy the Iguana went through many design iterations during its run, making the toy extra valuable to Beanie Baby obsessives today. Some Iggys have a tongue sticking out, while others do not; some are neon rainbow in color, while others are dark blue; some have a tag attached to the foot, and others have one attached to the spine. With so many potential combinations of characteristics, Iggy has become a favorite of collectors, with some selling for as much as $5000.

9. Gobbles the Turkey // Value: $6667

Gobbles the Turkey Beanie Baby
slgckgc, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Like Iggy, there are multiple versions of this 1997 Gobbles the Turkey Beanie Baby floating around. He came with either a double or single-layer felt waddle, and his tail feathers were attached at various heights on his back. A Gobbles the Turkey in new condition fetched a seller $6667 on eBay in 2018.

10. Patti the Platypus // Value: $9000

If you started buying Beanie Babies before they were cool, check your collection for Patti the Platypus, an early Beanie Baby that's worth a fortune now. The fuchsia toy sold for $9000 in January 2019, making it one of the more valuable items on this list. In addition to being one of the nine original Beanie Babies released in 1993, it’s notable for being named after Patricia Roche, then-girlfriend of company founder Ty Warner and the eventual head of Ty Europe.

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