Alibi V.16 No.15 • April 12-18, 2007 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Croatia--A man thought he had come up with the perfect crime, but it didn’t quite turn out the way he expected. Dragos Radovic, 25, was arrested for smuggling at Zagreb airport after flying in from Bangkok, Thailand. Customs officials became suspicious when they saw the top of a bag he was carrying appeared to be moving. When they asked him to open his luggage, they found 175 chameleons stuffed into the bag. The endangered reptiles are reportedly worth nearly $100,000 on the black market. Radovic paid just $150 for them in a Thai market. Radovic had assumed that the chameleon’s color-changing abilities would make them impossible for customs officials to detect. “The man who sold them said they changed color to make them invisible against any background, but it did not work,” said Radovic. Vets who were called to treat the reptiles said they were dehydrated and distressed from the long flight.

Dateline: England--A billboard made from pure chocolate disappeared in just three hours as scores of children and passersby tucked into the edible advertisement. According to the BBC, Thorntons Chocolatier erected the 14.5-foot by 9.5-foot sign in London’s Covent Garden neighborhood last weekend. The Easter creation, believed to be the world’s first edible billboard, was made from 10 chocolate bunnies, 72 giant chocolate eggs and 128 chocolate panels, each weighing nearly 4.5 pounds. The billboard took three months to plan and 300 hours for a team of 10 to build. It was expected to last a week, but was consumed within hours of its completion.

Dateline: China--A woman survived a six-floor fall thanks to a conveniently placed pile of poo. The accident happened when the woman was hanging laundry on her balcony last Monday in Nanjing, capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu. “Workers happened to be emptying the building’s septic tank, which had not been tended for a long time and had regularly blocked sewage pipes,” the Kuaibao newspaper reported. It is assumed the woman stretched too far out and tumbled from her sixth-floor balcony--right on to an 8-inch-thick heap of excavated excrement. The women suffered only slight injuries, the newspaper reported.

Dateline: Sweden--Metallica may be a kick-ass name for a rock group, but it’s an unacceptable name for a baby--at least according to the Swedish courts. Michael and Karolina Tomaro have already baptized their six-month-old child, but the Swedish National Tax Board has rejected the name. The couple has gotten backing from the County Administrative Court in Goteborg, which ruled on March 13 that there was no reason to block the name. It also noted that there is already a woman in Sweden whose middle name is Metallica. The tax agency, however, appealed to a higher court and is still refusing to register the name. The name battle has reportedly frustrated the family’s travel plans. “We’ve had to cancel trips and can't get anywhere because we can’t get her a passport without an approved name,” Karolina Tomaro told reporters.

Dateline: Mexico--A bored but resourceful kinkajou escaped from a Mexico City zoo last Monday and boarded a crosstown bus. The kinkajou, a nocturnal animal distantly related to the raccoon, got on the bus at about 11 p.m. after escaping from the San Juan de Aragon Zoo. The animal, which is about the size of a small dog, sat next to the bus driver for almost an hour as he drove through the city. According to the Mexican news agency Notimex, the joyride eventually ended when the animal scratched and bit a 20-year-old female passenger as she tried to hold it. The woman was treated for her injury and the animal was placed in quarantine.

Dateline: Illinois--A sweaty but determined coyote wandered into a downtown Chicago fast-food joint last Tuesday, apparently looking to cool off. The male coyote entered a Quiznos sandwich shop on Wabash Ave. just before 2 p.m. Workers had propped the door open because of the hot afternoon, and in came the roughly 30-pound, 18-month-old wild animal. “He probably smelled our prime rib,” the restaurant's manager, Bina Patel, told the Chicago Sun-Times. The coyote tried to nose his way past a small, swinging door that leads behind the counter, but a worker held his leg against the door. Another worker screamed and jumped up on the counter. The coyote eventually found a comfortable seat, curled up atop a stack of Diet Pepsi in the store’s open cooler. There were four customers in the shop when the coyote entered. Two left, but the others stuck around to finish their chicken sandwiches and to snap photos of the store’s unwelcome loiterer. A police officer, who was hanging out at a donut shop next door, eventually cleared the store. The coyote had it all to himself for nearly 45 minutes, but he never moved from his spot in the cooler. “He’s chilling out for real,” said Eric Campbell, a delivery man from Elmhurst. “He’s looking at us like we’re crazy.” An animal control officer eventually arrived and easily captured the creature with a catchpole. Coyote sightings in Chicago are rare, but not unprecedented. The animal was taken to the city’s Animal Control facility for an exam and is expected to be released at the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation refuge in Barrington.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.