Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Street warfare," April 7, 2007

Grand attraction

A first of its kind Grand Canyon Skywalk cost the Hualapai tribe $30 million to build, but the tribe hopes to draw more than a half million tourists to the glass skywalk over the Grand Canyon in its first year of operation. The structure sounds frightening, but officials say the skywalk is strong enough to hold 71 Boeing 747s.

Little horse, big bucks

For a one-trick pony, Thumbelina puts on a pretty good show. Instead of jumping over fences, the fully grown 17.5-inch dwarf horse sneaks under them. But owners of the 5-year-old, 57-pound horse see big things ahead for Thumbelina. They hope to parlay Thumbelina's recent title of "World's Smallest Living Horse" from Guinness World Records into a charity moneymaker. So far, Thumbelina has helped raise about $10,000 for children's charities, but her owners hope to raise close to $1 million.

Witness protection

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Contraband sniffing dogs Lucky and Flo won't be seeing action anytime soon. Officers in Malaysia's anti-piracy unit have stashed the star DVD-sniffing dogs in a safe house until they can investigate claims that bounties were placed on each dog's head. In March, Lucky and Flo sniffed out more than 1 million pirated DVDs while on loan from the Motion Picture Association of America. Reports did not disclose the amount of the bounty. The MPAA says its members lost over $1 billion in sales due to pirated Asian discs.

Getting a handout

Finally, some good news for the catfish. State conservation officials are thinking about ending their five-year noodling experiment three years early, saying hand fishers are catching too many breeding catfish. Explanation: Some Missourians were thrilled when a few years ago the state began issuing licenses for hand fishing-an old-timey practice of attempting to catch catfish by hand in rivers, lakes, and ponds. Noodlers, as they're known, shove their hands into the murky depths in hopes that a catfish will latch onto a wiggling finger. Ideally, the noodler then manages to slip his hand into the mouth of the fish and out the gill before bringing it out of the water. But often enough, noodlers say, it's not catfish latching on but snakes and snapping turtles. "If you don't come up bloody," one noodler said, "you ain't hand fishing."

Lights out

Downtown Minneapolis is going into forced blackout. But the air raiders forcing skyscrapers in Minnesota's largest city to dim in the evening are made of feathers, not steel. Bird conservationists have convinced officials to turn out the lights at the 57-story Wells Fargo Building and the 33-story Accenture Building downtown to help prevent migratory songbirds from crashing into windows. Conservationists say most birds know to avoid the buildings, but some are fatally attracted to the lights.

Bloody battle

Apparently having never played Barrel of Monkeys, Marlon Brown didn't know that when you take on one monkey, you take on all of them. Police say Brown was part of a group that attempted to break into the Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo in the United Kingdom last year to steal a well-known Bolivian squirrel monkey named Spongebob. But when Brown made the snatch, the rest of the monkeys in the cage attacked. Brown made away with the monkey (which his group later abandoned) but left blood used by police to track him down. Brown stood trial in March.

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