Five recent animal stories

(accumulated from around the net)

1. Jessica the hippo who loves coffee.

2. The octopus archeologist who unearthed a 900-year-old treasure.

The extraordinary discovery on what was for 58-year-old Mr Kim another ‘day at the office’ began when he took his small boat out from the town of Taean, 60 miles south west of Seoul. As usual, he was hoping for a good catch of webfoot octopus, which are a delicacy in Korea.

But on this particular day, he decided to try somewhere new, a few miles south of his regular fishing spot.

Casting out a long line, he felt a familiar tug and hauled up his first octopus of the day. He was puzzled by several blue objects attached to its suckers and thought at first they were shells.

But when he examined them, he realised they were pieces of pottery. Not realising he was on the point of making an incredible discovery, he cast out his line again and again, bringing in more octopus with shards of pottery attached.

Then he brought one up with a whole plate caught on its tentacles.

3. Polar Bears vs. Submarines

In April 2003, USS Connecticut (SSN-22), a Seawolf-class submarine, surfaced through the Arctic ice and came under attack by a polar bear, which gnawed on her rudder for a while before disengaging. Submariners have seen polar bears in the past, but this is one of the few times that the bear saw the sub first, and apparently mistook it for the world’s largest chunk of bear food.


4. Oscar The Cat

For like a harbinger of bad news, Oscar is able to discern the exact moment at which the angel of death comes to stand at their bedside. It is an unusual skill, certainly. All the more so because Oscar is just a cat.

The fluffy, two-year-old, grey and white brindled pet was adopted by the dementia unit at the home in Rhode Island and named by its residents after a famous American hot dog brand.

Yet his skills of divination are beyond question – and have even been the subject of an article in as august a publication as the New England Journal Of Medicine. To date he has predicted the deaths of 25 patients, and done so with such accuracy that he has completely won the trust of even the initially incredulous medical staff.

“This cat really seems to know when patients are about to die,” says Dr David Dosa, a geriatrician at Rhode Island hospital who also attends patients at Steere House.

We started to see something was happening about 18 months ago and at first I think we were all very sceptical. But it’s not an unusual occurrence for patients to die here, so we’ve had plenty of opportunities to witness and observe the phenomenon.”

The first signals come as early as two days beforehand, when Oscar leaves his usual favourite solitary spots under a doctor’s desk or sunbathing in the windows of an empty office and begins doing his rounds, padding round the corridors of the unit, visiting patients but never lingering.

“When somebody’s not ready to die, he leaves,” says Dr Dosa. “He doesn’t settle in their room until the day they die. Sometimes it can be as much as four hours beforehand, but he’s universally there, curled up on their bed, two hours before they take their last breath.”


5. Man-eating badgers and GPS-equipped spy squirrels on the prowl in the middle east. (Remember what I was saying earlier about real life being stranger than the Weekly World News?)

British forces have denied rumours that they released a plague of ferocious badgers into the Iraqi city of Basra. Word spread among the populace that UK troops had introduced strange man-eating, bear-like beasts into the area to sow panic. But several of the creatures, caught and killed by local farmers, have been identified by experts as honey badgers.

The rumours spread because the animals had appeared near the British base at Basra airport.

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: “We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.


Reportedly, some 14 implike squirrels were recently “arrested by Iranian authorities for espionage,” as the critters were apparently found to have various amounts of “spy gear from foreign agencies” on (er, in) their bodies. Some reports even mention that the animals were sporting embedded GPS sensors, but due to the high level of secrecy surrounding the capture, things are still a bit foggy. Nevertheless, Iran has apparently claimed that the “rodents were being used by Western powers in an attempt to undermine the Islamic Republic,” and while it doesn’t seem that anyone is really aware of the squirrels’ fates, it looks like sending in the animals to do a human’s dirty work isn’t as effective as it once was.


BONUS 6. The Lake Tahoe bear cub who climbed into a 1964 Buick Skylark and chowed down on beer and a barbecue-chicken-and-jalapeño pizza.


About Chris Barrus

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