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The Weird Week in Review

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ZOO THWARTS FAKE ZEBRA ESCAPE

Zookeepers in many places hold drills to practice catching an escaped animal, but zoos in Japan have elevated such drills to public relations events, with a zookeeper wearing an animal costume playing the escapee. The Ueno Zoo in Tokyo held a drill for a zebra on Tuesday.

“The zebra is an animal that easily panics,” said Yumi Tamura, 27, who dressed as the zebra but usually cares for gorillas and monkeys.

“I myself felt panicky when acting it out,” she told reporters.

In this year’s drill, one zookeeper had a "heart attack," while another was "injured" by the zebra. In the end, the "zebra" was subdued by a fake stun gun and was successfully returned to its pen.

WOMAN CRASHES HER OWN FUNERAL TO CONFRONT MURDEROUS HUSBAND

Noela Rukundo of Melbourne, Australia, was visiting her native Burundi when two men kidnapped her. They had accepted money from Rukundo’s husband Balenga Kalala to murder her, and they called Kalala back in Melbourne to prove they had Rukundo in custody. In doing so, they informed Rukundo that her husband had contracted the murder. Two days later, the kidnappers gave Rukundo recorded evidence against her husband and set her free. She flew back to Australia without contacting Kalala. That is, until he was leaving her memorial service a few days later. When Kalala saw his wife, he thought it was a ghost—or hoped so. He was then arrested, and pled guilty after being confronted with the evidence of his murder for hire scheme. In December, Kalala was sentenced to nine years in prison.

SEA LION VISITS SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

A young sea lion must have been hungry when he wandered into The Marine Room restaurant in San Diego on Thursday. He walked in and sat down at a prime booth with an ocean view. Employees called Sea World about the matter. The Sea World Rescue Team arrived to collect the sea lion and determined that he only weighed half as much as he should for his age. The juvenile sea lion is listed in critical condition, but the rescue team is optimistic about his chances for recovering his health. Chef Bernard Guillas took several photos of the sea lion while he was at the restaurant.

POLICE OFFICER MISTAKEN FOR STRIPPER AT PARTY

Policeman Mike Ober noticed a door open at a social club in Wiltshire, UK, that normally isn’t open on weekends. He went inside to investigate, and was greeted with loud cheers from a group of women. They were holding a 50th birthday party, and when they saw the uniformed officer walk in, they assumed he was the hired stripper! Ober was told to leave, as he had arrived too early. Ober was glad to oblige, and actually passed the real stripper on his way out.

"It's a matter of personal taste, but the uniforms aren't very flattering, so I guess [the mix-up] is flattering," he said.

MISSING CAT FOUND LIVING IN PET FOOD FACTORY

Tanya Irons of Toton, Nottinghamshire, UK, had a nine-month-old Norwegian Forest Cat named Clive that went missing 14 months ago. Recently, employees of Kennelgate Pet Superstore warehouse noticed evidence of a cat in the 20,000-square-foot facility. Supervisor Diane Gaskill set a cat trap after a week of sightings, and Clive was apprehended and taken to a veterinarian. He was traced to Irons through his microchip. Irons was excited to see Clive again, but noticed he had gained a lot of weight since he left home. No one knows for sure how long Clive had been in the warehouse, or how much food he had helped himself to.

BUTT PRINT VALENTINE'S CARDS

A family joke has turned into a greeting card business for a man from Australia. They sent each other increasingly inappropriate cards until his sister Jamie hit on the idea of decorating cards with butt prints. The artist goes by just the name “Davis,” because he has a day job he wants to keep.

"I had to squat on 10 pieces of paper to get the right print," he said. "We spent 90 minutes experimenting with food dye and acrylic paint. Meanwhile, all my shorts hairs got covered in paint."

The first two cards are now on sale for Valentine’s Day (Link contains NSFW language). Davis wants to assure customers that the cards on sale are reprints, not the original paintings.

5 Strange News Stories From This Week

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. MAN PAYS FINE WITH FIVE WHEELBARROWS OF PENNIES

On January 11, Nick Stafford of Cedar Bluff, Virginia, carted 1600 pounds of pennies into the Lebanon Department of Motor Vehicles to pay taxes on two of his vehicles. It was the end of a saga that began in September, when Stafford tried to find out which of his homes (which are located in two counties) he should use to register his son's new car. When he tried to call his local DMV, he was routed to a larger call center—and so, to get the local number he wanted, he submitted a successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Then he went one step further, filing three lawsuits to get the direct numbers for nine other local DMVs. “If they were going to inconvenience me then I was going to inconvenience them,” Stafford told The Herald Courier.

A judge ultimately dismissed the lawsuits when the state's Attorney General physically handed Stafford the phone numbers in the courtroom. But Stafford still had to pay sales tax on his vehicles, and he got in one last dig at the DMV while doing so: First, he bought five new wheelbarrows. Then, he bought a bunch of rolls of pennies. He hired 11 people to help him unroll the pennies—300,000 in total—and drove them to the DMV, where he put them in the wheelbarrows and, with the help of people he had hired, rolled them in. (“I’m not used to lifting,” Stafford said. “These are heavy.”) The lawsuits, wheelbarrow, and hired help cost Stafford more than $1000 above the amount of the vehicle tax.

2. MOTORIST JAILED OVER KITTY LITTER

When he was pulled over in early December 2016, Ross Lebeau thought it was a routine traffic stop—but Houston sheriff's deputies arrested him on drug charges. In his car, the officers had found a substance in a sock, which, when field tested, was positive for meth. A press release stated that Lebeau had been found with a half pound of meth in his vehicle; the release contained both Lebeau's mugshot and a picture of the substance seized.

Lebeau spent three days in jail, but he was released when lab tests revealed that the substance was not meth after all—it was kitty litter! As WMC Action News 5 reported on January 7:

Lebeau said the substance was cat litter inside a sock.

His father left one in his car and gave the other to his sister for her car. It's supposed to keep the windows from fogging up.

The problem was that two field tests done by deputies came back positive for meth.

The county's forensic lab tested the substance as well, and no drugs were found. The case was then dismissed, but the damage was already done to Lebeau's reputation. "People have been calling me a kingpin or drug lord," Lebeau said, adding that he's lost out on work because of the accusation. “I was wrongly accused, and I'm going to do everything in my power to clear my name."

3. SWISS TOWN DENIES PASSPORT TO "ANNOYING" DUTCH VEGAN

Nancy Holten was born in the Netherlands, but she's lived in Switzerland since she was a child. The outspoken vegan and animal rights activist has campaigned against the cowbells that local livestock wear, saying the tradition is animal abuse, and has complained about loud church bells, hunting, and pig races. Holten, who is seeking Swiss citizenship, as been denied twice. Local residents can approve or deny villagers' requests, and they have deemed Holten too annoying. As Yahoo News UK reported on January 11:

"Tanja Suter, the president of the local Swiss People’s Party, claimed Ms Holten has a 'big mouth' and that residents did not want to grant her citizenship 'if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions.'"

Holten's citizenship case has been transferred to the Cantonal (regional) government body, which can overturn the local decision.

4. MAN FOUND STUCK IN KITCHEN VENT

Gjyste (Julie) Margilaj heard a crashing sound in her first-floor Manhattan apartment kitchen just after midnight on January 10. “I freaked ... out for a couple of minutes, and then I went over to the kitchen and I heard someone panting and breathing like they were in obvious pain. They were freaking out," she told the New York Daily News. “I opened the kitchen vent so he could breathe.” The man, a new resident of the seven-story building, had been on the roof hanging with some friends when, according to the FDNY, he removed the cover of an exhaust fan and slid down into the ductwork. "The shaft was so small that his body took up the entire vent," FDNY Chief Patrick Tansey told Pix 11 News. "So, using power tools was out of the question. We had to expose him by hand." The man—who was wearing just his underwear—only had minor injuries after the ordeal. "He had told the occupant who called us something about a pool in the basement," Tansey said, "but I don't know."

5. GOLFER RUN OVER BY TOILET

This week, Brian Berg filed a lawsuit over an incident that occurred last summer at Fox Run Golf Links in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The golfer was enjoying a day on the green when he was run over by a portable toilet. An employee of the course was using a forklift to move the toilet but couldn't see where he was going because the toilet obscured his vision. According to CBS Chicago,

"After he was knocked to the ground by the porta-potty’s “initial blow,” it did not stop, hitting him in the face and knocking him unconscious, the suit says. It injured his shoulder, cut his chin, cracked a rib, bruised a bicep and caused 'a large, deep bruise to his leg.'"

Berg is asking $50,000 in damages from the Elk Grove Park District, which runs the golf course, and the forklift driver.

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5 Strange News Stories From This Week
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Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. CALF GETS LASSOED FROM THE HOOD OF A POLICE CAR

When authorities got a call about a calf that was loose on Tennessee's Highway 79N, David Bevill of Paris, Tennessee, volunteered to help local police capture it. Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew drove down the highway with Bevill on the hood, ready to rope in the calf. According to a Facebook post,

Belew said the calf became loose when a man was driving through town and his cattle trailer door broke. “There were actually two that got loose, but Dr. Lyons at Mineral Wells Animal Clinic and his crew were able to get the other one,” Belew said.

“So everybody is happy—we roped one calf, Dr. Lyons got the other one and the guy who was hauling them through town is happy, too,” Belew said.

It's always handy to know a cowboy when you've got a job to do.

2. CAT STUCK IN SUPPORTS OF DOUBLE-DECKER HIGHWAY FOR NINE DAYS

Erin McCutcheon's cat Juno escaped a zippered cat carrier and jumped out of a moving car on the upper deck of I-93 in Boston on Christmas Day. McCutcheon couldn't find her cat, and so distributed posters and put out a call for help on Facebook. On Tuesday, a Local 103 crew of electricians doing maintenance work spotted Juno high above the lower deck, perched on the support girders under the upper deck. Juno had been stuck 80 feet above the highway for nine days! The crew couldn't catch the frightened feline, but eventually lured her out with cans of cat food. Juno, hungry and thirsty, went home with electrician Jay Frazier, and was later reunited with the McCutcheons.

3. MAN CARRIES SCISSORS IN BODY FOR 18 YEARS

Ma Van Nhat underwent surgery at Bac Kan Hospital in Vietnam in 1998 after suffering injuries in a traffic accident. Recently, he complained of pain in his abdomen, which doctors dismissed as a stomachache. But on December 27, during a routine checkup, a doctor determined there was a foreign object there. Last Saturday, surgeons removed a pair of surgical scissors, which had apparently been inside Nhat for 18 years. The scissors had broken and adhered to Nhat's abdominal organs. According to The Huffington Post,

The hospital’s director, Trinh Thi Luong, is now taking great pains to find out who may have left the scissors inside Nhat.

“Even if they are already retired, we will still inform them,” Luong said, according to Reuters. “This is a lesson to all doctors.”

4. MAN OPENS DOOR TO BRICK WALL

An unnamed man in Mainhausen, Germany, woke up Monday morning and got ready for work as usual—but when he opened his front door, he couldn't leave: Someone had built a brick wall over the door opening. The perpetrators had built the wall quickly and quietly during the night. He had to tear out the bricks to leave his house. Police don't know whether the wall was a prank or an act of revenge.

5. NEW SHERIFF GETS ARRESTED

The citizens of Roane County, West Virginia, elected a new sheriff in November. Bo Williams began his new job last Sunday, but on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News, he was was arrested on charges of grand larceny for stealing meth from an evidence locker at his previous job with the Spencer, West Virginia, police department. Bags of meth with evidence numbers were found in his desk and in his car. Williams had resigned from that job after admitting to drug addiction in December. The Roane County commission removed Williams from office that same day, and asked a former sheriff to step in to run the department. Williams is out of jail on bond and may face up to 10 years in prison.

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