Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Big mouth on campus," March 12, 2005

Joking matter

Some jokes just aren't funny in an age of terrorism. Practical jokers in Olympia, Wash., managed to shut down a checkpoint along the U.S.-Canadian border for nearly four hours on Feb. 25, and the border patrol wasn't even their target. Canadian Mounties discovered a strange metal object below the driver's seat of a man trying to cross the border. Suspicious of a bomb, the Mounties had the crossing shut down and a duty-free store evacuated while Canadian authorities investigated. The object turned out to be ball bearings inside a metal tube, and it had been placed under the seat by the driver's co-workers to create an annoying rattle.

"Momma's" boy

A baby hippo, separated from its mother and cast out to sea in the December tsunami, has found an adoptive "mother" at a Kenyan wildlife park-a 130-year-old male tortoise. Zookeepers say that after the scared hippo, named Owen, was rescued at sea and brought to the zoo, he darted toward the tortoise, named Mzee, and hid.

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Since then, Owen has stayed around Mzee, often resting his head on the tortoise and playing with him. He also becomes aggressive if anyone approaches Mzee. Sabine Baer, rehabilitation and ecosystems manager at Lafarge Eco Systems, which runs the park, said the bonding is unprecedented: "A mammal with a mammal, yes it happens. But reptiles and mammals, we haven't seen this."

Keystone criminals

Two Danish criminals reaped what they had sown-while they were still sowing. The thieves had the keys to their getaway car stolen while they were burglarizing a summer cabin on Feb. 23. Police say that as they returned to their vehicle with stolen possessions, a passerby confronted them, telling them to return the loot. When they refused, he took their car keys. Reasoning that their vehicle would be linked to the crime if they left it, the pair called the police on the passerby and themselves. "It's a pretty straightforward case for us," said Kaldred Police official Asger Larsen, "since this time, the thieves actually reported the robbery."

Getting some shut-eye

Buddhist monk Phra Khru Prapatworakhun will be OK, but for a while he probably couldn't see how he would be. That's because the 81-year-old Thai monk had glued his eyes shut after mistaking a bottle of superglue for a bottle of eye drops. Doctors at Angthong Hospital were able to dissolve the glue during an operation on Feb. 22. They say his eyes were not damaged.

The late, great Bubba

A lobster pulled from the waters off Nantucket, Mass., weighed over 22 pounds and may have been over 100 years old. At well over 10 times the size of a normal lobster, "Bubba" was "overwhelming," said owner Bob Wholey. But instead of serving up Bubba to customers, Mr. Wholey last week gave the lobster to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Bubba made it to the zoo but died soon after arriving.

Catch of the day

It may sound like a fish story, but amateur Norwegian fisherman Harald Skoge hooked a halibut so big he couldn't get it into his 29-foot boat. Using a simple hook and line, Mr. Skoge thought he'd hit a snag at first, but then the 321-pound halibut broke the surface. For three hours, Mr. Skoge towed the fish to shore. At the official weigh-in, the fish's head alone tipped the scales at 42 pounds.

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