MODIMOLLE, South Africa — A hippo who wandered into a swimming pool at a South African game lodge three days ago died Friday before a rescue team could pull him out with a crane, a cruel blow to many across this country who hoped the animal would be saved.
In a country still reeling from last week's mine violence leaving dozens of strikers dead, the plight of the hippopotamus called Solly captivated South African media with live TV broadcasts from the game lodge and newspaper headlines like "It's all systems go for the rescue of Solly the hippo." His death left several of those involved pointing fingers of blame.
Monate Conservation Lodge manager Ruby Ferreira said a game capture team had been waiting for a veterinarian to show up since Thursday before hoisting out the heavy hippo with a crane. Late Thursday, it seemed a rescue for the wayward hippo could be carried off. Someone even set up a Twitter account on behalf of the hippo and tweeted purported hippo quotes.
Then on Friday morning, the TV news carried a scrolling headline announcing Solly's death.
"It started out as a happy story and now it's a tragic story. It's devastating," Ferreira said.
The vet didn't arrive until late Friday morning, and when he did and saw that he had come too late he tried to blame the media, saying they created pressure for a rescue attempt on Friday instead of waiting for the hippo to gather strength by being fed. But the vet also said he couldn't have saved the animal anyway because of the aggravated stress experienced ever since the hippo had been fighting for a position in his herd.
ASUNCION, Paraguay — Imagine being stuck in a cage for two months while going through customs. That's the border limbo that 16 tigers have faced in Paraguay because Argentine officials refuse to approve their paperwork for entry.
The tigers used to perform in a circus. Their owner Oswal Wasconi said he decided to ship them to Argentina after Paraguay's environmental ministry banned live animal circus acts.
Biologist Estela Gomez is the ministry's wildlife director. She says the tigers are all certified to be in good health, and blames the Argentines for blocking their entry because Bengal and African tigers are protected species.
Aides to Argentina's quarantine office director Raul Castelli said Friday he was in a meeting and could not immediately explain the holdup.
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Here comes the bride, all dressed in a jet pack that's zipping down a California beach.
Amanda Volf and Grant Engler donned water-powered packs Thursday to be married in Newport Beach.
The 25-year-old former wedding planner from Grand Rapids, Mich., says she wanted a unique ceremony. So the couple donned the $90,000 contraptions on their backs, along with a wetsuit for the groom and white board shorts and a rash-guard shirt for the bride.
The jetpacks from Jetlev Southwest helped the couple hover a few feet above the water, to the cheers of their wedding guests.
Everything went smoothly — except for a kayaker who capsized during the newlyweds' first dance on the water.
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A beekeeper had to remove a swarm of insects from the pickup truck cab of a woman who had briefly stopped for lunch at a western Pennsylvania restaurant.
Crystal Smith tells the Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown that she was inside the Main Moon Chinese Restaurant in Richland Township for about 15 minutes when employees spotted the bees swarming in per pickup cab on Thursday.
Local beekeeper Greg Berkebile was called in and says swarms can form when the queen bee moves from a hive. He says it's likely the queen flew in through and open truck window and her drones followed, attracted by pheromones — a secreted chemical from the queen.
Berkebile lit a cigarette inside the cab to produce smoke to confuse the bees, which he then shooed outside.
BILLINGS, Mont. — A construction worker who tried to help police corral a runaway cow said the bovine charged at him "like a bull at a rodeo," tossing him into the air before continuing its rampage through the streets of Montana's largest city.
The snorting, charging cow ran amok in downtown Billings on Tuesday for more than an hour and a half, terrifying pedestrians and knocking over a bicyclist until a police sniper fired a single shot through its heart.
Morgan Logan of Acton suffered broken bones in his lower leg and had sore ribs after his encounter with the 1,200-pound black Angus cow after it escaped from the Public Auction Yards on Tuesday afternoon, The Billings Gazette reported.
Logan, 52, said he was driving a gravel truck when he saw the police chasing the animal and decided to try to help.
"I've been around livestock my whole life, so at first sight I thought it was pretty funny seeing cops chase a cow down the street," said Logan. "But she was like a bull at a rodeo."
The cow charged at him from under a tree, said Logan, who was released from the hospital Wednesday.
"I guess I saw her too late because the next thing I knew I was in the air," Logan said. "I had no fence to climb — she caught me right in the open."
Billings police Lt. Kevin Iffland said by the time Logan encountered the cow it had already tipped over a bicyclist, charged pedestrians and nearly jumped over a police vehicle.
A police marksman shot the cow in the heart with a rifle about two hours after it escaped.
WASHINGTON, Pa. — Police say they've found a stolen car suspect in the last place they expected: in a southwestern Pa. jail, using another name.
Canonsburg police tell the Observer-Reporter of Washington, Pa., that they found 18-year-old Christopher Thomas on Monday after an anonymous tipster told them he'd already been arrested in a pizza delivery robbery in another town.
Online court records don't list an attorney for Thomas who remained in the Washington County Jail on Tuesday. He's been there since Aug. 15 on charges of robbing the delivery driver in Washington, Pa.
But police in Canonsburg didn't know that because Thomas identified himself as Tayshawn Wilson when he was first arrested.
Canonsburg police have now charged him with driving the stolen car and almost hitting three people with it when police chased him Aug. 11.
SEATTLE — A man who specializes in insuring golf tournament hole-in-one prizes has been charged in Washington state with refusing to pay up.
Kevin Kolenda, of Norwalk, Conn., was charged last week in King County Superior Court with five felony counts of selling insurance without a license. He is set to be arraigned Sept. 5.
The Seattle Times reports that charging documents accuse the 54-year-old Kolenda of failing to pass out prize money when several Seattle-area golfers connected on an elusive ace. In some cases, charities or tournament hosts had to come up with the cash, according a state insurance commissioner's investigation.
The documents also say Kolenda ignored a cease-and-desist order and a $125,000 insurance commission fine in 2004. The Times also reports that he was charged with similar crimes in Montana last month.
Attempts to reach Kolenda were unsuccessful.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police are searching for a wig-wearing man who went to extreme measures to burglarize an Albuquerque beef jerky store.
KRQE-TV reports that surveillance video at Mike's Jerky shows a man ramming a brick through the store's glass door several times and squeezing through a small opening to get his hands on some flavored-jerky.
The store's owner Michael Grier says the video of the recent burglary also shows that the bandit knew his beef jerky as he went around the store snapping up the ones full of pepper, salt, and bacon.
Grier says the man could probably make a few hundred bucks selling the stolen beef jerky on the street.
No arrests have been made.