New Jersey's pigskin-picking camel dies before Super Bowl
LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — New Jersey's pigskin-prognosticating camel has died just weeks before the state is set to host its first Super Bowl.
Princess was a fixture at the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township for 10 years and gained fame for picking winners.
Zoo manager John Bergmann tells the Asbury Park Press the 26-year-old Bactrian camel was euthanized after arthritis made it impossible for her to stand.
Princess' made her picks with graham crackers. Bergmann would hold one in each hand, marked with the names of the competing teams. Whichever hand she chose was her prediction.
Princess correctly picked the Baltimore Ravens in last year's Super Bowl. Her best run came in the 2008 season, when she picked 17 of 22 games correctly, including the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Super Bowl XLIII.
Pa. couple advertises home as 'slightly haunted'
DUNMORE, Pa. — Between the mysteriously banging doors, the odd noises coming from the basement, and the persistent feeling that someone is standing behind them, homeowners Gregory and Sandi Leeson are thoroughly creeped out by their 113-year-old Victorian.
So when they put the house in northeastern Pennsylvania up for sale last month, they advertised it as "slightly haunted."
Then things got REALLY weird.
There were calls from ghost hunters. An open house attracted lots of curiosity seekers, but no legitimate buyers. And a former resident came out of the woodwork to tell the couple that when he was a kid, he found a human skull in the basement — the same basement whose door Sandi Leeson once barricaded because she swore she could hear the clicking of a cigarette lighter emanating from the subterranean depths.
It's enough to make her husband wonder whether he did the right thing when he playfully wrote about the home's spooky charms:
"Slightly haunted. Nothing serious, though," says the listing on Zillow's real-estate site. It goes on to describe 3:13 a.m. screams and "the occasional ghastly visage" in the bathroom mirror.
The listing attracted local and national media attention. Now the Leesons just need an actual buyer for the four-bedroom home, on the market for $144,000.
Manual transmission stymies Mass. car thieves
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A trio of would-be Massachusetts car thieves had to hit the brakes on their plan because none of them knew how to drive a stick.
Police in Springfield say the men pulled a knife on a food delivery driver Tuesday night and demanded the grub and his keys. But then they noticed the car had a manual transmission.
Sgt. John Delaney tells The Republican newspaper the thieves argued among themselves then ran down the street with their ill-gotten dinner.
The driver was not seriously hurt. There have been no arrests.
Kittens pull 'break-in' at upstate NY prison
FORT ANN, N.Y. — A litter of kittens has found a cozy home in the least cozy of places — a maximum-security prison in upstate New York.
The Post-Star of Glens Falls reports four kittens found their way into the basement of the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Fort Ann a few months ago. That's near the Vermont border 55 miles northeast of Albany.
The family of feral felines has been cared for by inmates and prison staff, including head electrician Bruce Porter. He arrives at work early so he can tend to the cats, which live in a large cage built by an inmate.
Another inmate takes care of the cats on weekends when many prison employees are off.
Prison officials say they're hoping to find the kittens homes among the staff.
Ohio zoo euthanizes hippo believed to be oldest in North America
CLEVELAND — A Nile hippopotamus believed to be the oldest in North America has died at an Ohio zoo.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo says the male hippo was euthanized Monday due to "advanced age-related ailments." The zoo says the hippo was named Blackie and was about 59 years old.
A zoo announcement says Blackie sired three male offspring after arriving at the zoo from Africa in 1955. Blackie was born in a game sanctuary in Tanzania.
The zoo says hippos typically live 30 to 40 years in the wild and can live longer in captivity.
Ohio woman offers beer, smokes as lost dog reward
DAYTON, Ohio — An Ohio woman made fliers offering a case of beer and a pack of cigarettes as a reward for finding her lost dog — and it worked.
Twenty-three-year-old Abigail Miller of Dayton offered the unusual reward after her two dogs escaped through an open gate on Jan. 2.
She found one of them at a local animal shelter a few days later, but the other, a Husky named Zoro, remained missing.
The Dayton Daily News reports that Miller came up the reward because she could afford it and figured it would attract attention.
She was right. The man who called and told Miller where to find her dog turned down the reward, but she says she's going to offer him some food from the sandwich shop where she works.
Chihuahua, bright collar help nab burglar
PINEVILLE, La. — A Chihuahua-carrying burglar was collared after detectives spotted the pooch in its owner's yard, less than a mile away, the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office said.
Investigators don't know why the Chihuahua was brought along, said Lt. Tommy Carnline, spokesman for the department.
"We have no clue. We have no idea. People do the strangest things," he said Monday in a brief phone interview.
But the dog caught the eye of a homeowner who zipped home Jan. 11 to check an alarm and saw someone jump out of his window.
"The complainant described the clothing the suspect was wearing but most noticeable was the blonde Chihuahua dog with a teal green collar he was carrying," Carnline wrote in a news release.
The suspect was identified before deputies spotted the dog in another yard, he wrote. That homeowner told investigators the dog was hers, and she had been letting 19-year-old Kyle Chase Rabalais of Pineville stay at her house.
Carnline said Rabalais was arrested soon afterward and booked with burglary, criminal damage and theft, and on previous warrants accusing him of theft, criminal damage, forgery, failure to pay a fine and contempt of court — the last because he didn't show up for a hearing.
He did not know whether Rabalais, who was held in lieu of $27,000 bond, had an attorney.
"This is Rabalais's 20th booking in the Rapides Parish Detention Center in less than a year," Carnline wrote.