2011.04.06 Animals rule the news, with a dumb human or two

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

Did you hear about the crocodile in Ukraine that ate a cell phone? “Gena,” a 14-year-old crocodile at an aquarium in Dnipropetrovsk (glad I only have to type that once), gobbled up a phone dropped by an aquarium visitor who was trying to photograph him.

Workers at the aquarium didn’t want to believe the woman when she claimed the reptile swallowed her phone, but they changed their minds when the crocodile’s stomach started ringing. The woman’s biggest worry was whether or not she would get her phone back, which she claimed contained  “precious photos.” The crocodile has much bigger problems.

He hasn’t eaten or moved his bowels for four weeks (at the time of the initial news report), and according to aquarium workers, “appears depressed and in pain.” They tried to entice Gena to eat by feeding him live quail injected with vitamins and laxatives, but Gena wouldn’t eat them, either.

Gena also refuses to play with his fellow crocs, even though he’s the leader of the group. An operation to remove the phone is considered a last resort, but other options are few. And the fool who dropped the phone? She refuses to contribute toward the crocodile’s care or an operation. More on this story as it becomes available.

Much closer to home, a Toledo woman who spent over a week in Mexico while leaving no one to feed or check on her nine dogs seemed surprised the survivors were taken from her. The 55-year-old woman claims she left her nine Pomeranians with two pans of water and another pan that contained two bags of dog food.

She told a Toledo newspaper that “I thought I gave them so much food that they couldn’t possibly eat it all.” Instead, when police, alerted by neighbors who feared she was sick or dead entered the house, they found no food or water and two dead dogs. Starving survivors were eating one of their dead comrades. 

Two days later, the woman returned. Unopened newspapers at the home led police to believe she was gone for 12 days. The woman refused to say how long she was away, but said, “I never wanted harm to come to my dogs. I love them like my children.” I’m glad I’m not one of her children.

She teared up when reciting a few of the dogs names, including “Precious, Sniffles, Pinky Do and Baby Doll.” I wonder what the dead dogs names were?

Over in Japan, a monkey sent to a Tokyo zoo after biting 120 people in two months has been recaptured after it escaped captivity for a short time. The monkey disappeared while her cage was being cleaned, but was discovered a day later at a public park.

I had to laugh when I learned her name was Lucky. I suppose that’s fitting because she got away with biting 119 people in central Japan last fall until the 120th attack resulted in her confinement.

In much happier news, at least for bears, attempts in Aspen, Colorado to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act seem to be aiding bruins with dexterity problems. 

Homes with the new style lever door handles are a jackpot for bears, whose thumb-less paws made opening a round doorknob virtually impossible. Now, bears just push down on the lever and get instant access to unlocked homes.

Actually, this probably isn’t as good as it might sound for Smokey Bear and his pals. An Associated Press article states that wildlife officers have killed 20 bears in the Aspen area in the last year after various “bear visits home” or other bruin-people clashes. It’s always the poor bear that gets blamed.

At least cats get their own day. February 17th was International Cat Day, although I don’t know why it’s called International since it’s apparently celebrated only in Poland and Italy. In Poland, cat lovers gathered at Warsaw’s Royal Castle and had a yarn ball fight.

Finally, for that person who seems to have everything, why not name a cockroach for them? The Bronx Zoo was pushing that idea  as a Valentine’s gift, saying, “Flowers wilt. Chocolates melt. Roaches are forever.”

For $10, you get to name one of the zoo’s Madagascar hissing cockroaches and receive a certificate for the recipient. On the first day of the promotion, 1,000 certificates were purchased. How many cockroaches does the zoo have, anyway?

I’m not sure that that’s a gift I’d want to give to someone I liked, but it might be a  perfect honor for a certain former dog owner in Toledo, as well as a phone-dropping blockhead in Ukraine.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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