World Oddities

Oddities News from across the world.

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Giant sheep shorn of 35 kg of wool after 5 years in Australia’s wilderness

TAIPEI (The China Post) — A sheep that has lived in the wilderness for 5 years was recently found in Australia. After receiving a call...

‘Cabbage swaddle’ becomes an Internet sensation in Japan

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Parents with babies pay attention! Don't miss this "cabbage-shaped baby swaddle" that has recently become a hit on Twitter.  "Supermarket...

Japanese cat lover makes ‘feline shrine’ to present daily treats

TAIPEI (The China Post) — People owning cats often refer to themselves as slaves to their pets. There is, therefore, little wonder that a Japanese...

Mars rover's giant parachute carried secret message

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The huge parachute used by NASA’s Perseverance rover to land on Mars contained a secret message, thanks to a puzzle lover on the spacecraft team. Systems engineer Ian Clark used a binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” in the orange and white strips of the 70-foot (21-meter) parachute. He also included the GPS coordinates for the mission's headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.Clark, a crossword hobbyist, came up with the idea two years ago. Engineers wanted an unusual pattern in the nylon fabric to know how the parachute was oriented during descent. Turning it into a secret message was “super fun," he said Tuesday.Only about six people knew about the encoded message before Thursday’s landing, according to Clark. They waited until the parachute images came back before putting out a teaser during a televised news conference Monday.It took just a few hours for space fans to figure it out, Clark said. Next time, he noted, “I’ll have to be a little bit more creative.”“Dare Mighty Things” — a line from President Theodore Roosevelt — is a mantra at JPL and adorns many of the center's walls. The trick was “trying to come up with a way of encoding it but not making it too obvious," Clark said. As for the GPS coordinates, the spot is 10 feet (3 meters) from the entrance to JPL's visitor center.Another added touch not widely known until touchdown: Perseverance bears a plaque depicting all five of NASA's Mars rovers in increasing size over the years — similar to the family car decals seen on Earth. Clark suspects there are even more so-called hidden Easter eggs, but adds: “I'm not even privy to them."___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

In Israel, mayo provides miracle for endangered turtles

MICHMORET, Israel (AP) — When it comes to saving sea turtles, Israeli rescuers have discovered that mayonnaise is a miracle.Employees at Israel's National Sea Turtle Rescue Center are treating endangered green sea turtles affected by a devastating oil spill that has coated Israel's coast with thick black tar. The spill, which Israel's Nature and Parks Authority has called one of the country's worst ecological disasters on record, has coated most of Israel's 120 miles (195 kilometers) of Mediterranean coastline with sticky tar. It has caused extensive damage to wildlife, including sea turtles. Guy Ivgy, a medical assistant at the Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Michmoret, north of Tel Aviv, said 11 turtles are being treated. The center is run by Israel's Nature and Parks Authority.“They came to us full of tar. All their trachea from inside and outside was full of tar," he said. Workers have been removing the toxic substance from the reptiles' airways and found a creative way to flush it out of their digestive tracks.“We continue to feed them substances like mayonnaise, which practically clean the system and break down the tar," Ivgy said. The recovery process is expected to take a week or two, after which the turtles are expected to be released back into the wild. Thousands of volunteers and clean-up crews have mobilized to remove tar from Israel's beaches, a task that is expected to take months. Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry says it is investigating the cause of the oil spill.The incident is believed to have taken place in early February, and Israel said it received no prior warning before an estimated 1,000 tons of tar started washing up on shore. The tar has also washed north to Lebanon.On Monday, an Israeli court barred publication of all details of the investigation, including the name of the suspected ship believed to have spilled the oil, its route and ports of call. An Israeli journalists' association petitioned the court on Tuesday to have the order lifted.

Social media users left in stitches at cat’s funny reactions to earthquake

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Many have felt anxious since an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 struck off Japan's northeastern region late...

139-year-old house rolls to new San Francisco address

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After 139 years at 807 Franklin St. in San Francisco, a two-story Victorian house has a new address. The green home with large windows and a brown front door was loaded onto giant dollies and moved Sunday to a location six blocks away. Onlookers lined the sidewalks to snap photos as the structure rolled — at a top speed of 1 mph — to 635 Fulton St. The house’s journey has been in the planning stages for years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Veteran house mover Phil Joy told the newspaper he had to secure permits from more than 15 city agencies. Joy said this move is tricky in part because the first part of the journey involves going downhill. “That’s always difficult for a house,” he said.Along the route, parking meters were ripped up, tree limbs were trimmed and traffic signs were relocated. The owner of the six-bedroom house, San Francisco broker Tim Brown, will pay about $400,000 in fees and moving costs, the Chronicle said.

Alaska woman using outhouse attacked by bear, from below

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska woman had the scare of a lifetime when using an outhouse in the backcountry and she was attacked by a bear, from below.“I got out there and sat down on the toilet and immediately something bit my butt right as I sat down,” Shannon Stevens told The Associated Press on Thursday. “I jumped up and I screamed when it happened.”Stevens, her brother Erik and his girlfriend had taken snowmobiles into the wilderness Feb. 13 to stay at his yurt, located about 20 miles northwest of Haines, in southeast Alaska.Her brother heard the screaming and went out to the outhouse, about 150 feet (45.72 meters) away from the yurt. There, he found Shannon tending to her wound. They at first thought she had been bitten by a squirrel or a mink, or something small.Erik had brought his headlamp with him to see what it was.“I opened the toilet seat and there’s just a bear face just right there at the level of the toilet seat, just looking right back up through the hole, right at me,” he said.“I just shut the lid as fast as I could. I said, ‘There’s a bear down there, we got to get out of here now,’” he said. “And we ran back to the yurt as fast as we could.”Once safely inside, they treated Shannon with a first aid kit. They determined it wasn’t that serious, but they would head to Haines if it worsened.“It was bleeding, but it wasn’t super bad,” Shannon said.The next morning, they found bear tracks all over the property, but the bear had left the area. “You could see them across the snow, coming up to the side of the outhouse,” she said.They figure the bear got inside the outhouse through an opening at the bottom of the back door.“I expect it’s probably not that bad of a little den in the winter,” Shannon said.Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Management Biologist Carl Koch suspects it was a black bear based upon photos of the tracks he saw and the fact that a neighbor living about a half-mile away sent him a photo of a black bear on her property two days later.That homeowner yelled at the bear but it didn’t react. It also didn’t approach her but lumbered about its business, like it was in a walking hibernation mode.Even though it’s winter, Koch said they get calls all year round about bears being out. And 2020 was a record year for general bear problems in the Haines area. Reasons for that, he said, could include the fact it was a poor salmon run year combined with a mediocre berry crop. “It is also possible a bear couldn’t put on enough fat when they go in the den, that they might be out and about more often or earlier,” he said.Koch suspects Shannon’s wound was caused by the bear swatting at her with a paw rather than being bitten. Either way, the location might be a first.“As far as getting swatted on the butt when you’re sitting down in winter, she could be the only person on Earth that this has ever happened to, for all I know,” Koch said.No matter the season, Erik says he’ll carry bear spray with him all the time when going into the backcountry, and Shannon plans to change one behavior as well.“I’m just going to be better about looking inside the toilet before sitting down, for sure,” she said.

M’sian woman’s ‘goldfish-shapped bun’ goes wrong after steaming

TAIPEI (The China Post) — During the Chinese New Year holiday, many took the time off to cook, relax and eat festive foods with...

UK's chief mouser celebrates 10 years on the prowl

LONDON (AP) — Larry the cat, a four-legged inhabitant of London’s 10 Downing St., is marking a decade as Britain’s mouse-catcher in chief on Monday.The tabby cat was recruited by then-Prime Minister David Cameron to deal with a pack of rats seen scuttling close to the British leader’s official residence, and entered Downing Street on Feb. 15, 2011.The former stray, adopted from London’s Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, was given the title Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, an unofficial pest control post. He was the first cat to hold the rat-catching portfolio since the retirement of Humphrey in 1997, and has loyally served three prime ministers. But it seems like yesterday that Larry was just another cat — as opposed to a media superstar — said Lindsey Quinlan, the head of cattery of Battersea. “Throughout his time at Number 10, Larry has proven himself to not only be a brilliant ambassador for Battersea but also demonstrated to millions of people around the world how incredible rescue cats are,’’ she said. “His rags to riches tale is yet more proof of why all animals deserve a second chance — one minute they may be an overlooked stray on the streets, the next they could become one of the nation’s beloved political figures, with fans around the world.”Larry, who has met a number of world leaders, has been largely unfriendly to men but took a liking to former U.S. President Barack Obama. When former President Donald Trump visited in 2019, Larry took a nap under his car.His grip on the public imagination is clear — and political leaders know better than to ignore that popularity. The tomcat was a sentimental topic of conversation in Cameron’s final appearance in Parliament as prime minister when he said he wanted to quash a rumor that — perish the thought — he didn’t like Larry.And just to prove it, he whipped out evidence: a picture of Larry lying on his lap.“He belongs to the house and the staff love him very much — as do I,” he said at the time, explaining why he wasn't taking Larry with him after leaving office.After the December 2019 election, rumors swirled that Larry might be headed for retirement with the news that the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, was a dog man. However, despite the prime minister moving Jack Russell cross Dilyn into Downing Street, Larry remained in office.Reports of his rodent-killing abilities vary. Larry became known for his occasional scraps with neighboring cats -- especially Palmerston, chief mouser to the Foreign Office across the street -- and fondness for sleep. Palmerston has retired to the country, so things have been a bit quieter of late.These days Larry, now 14, is often seen by photographers patrolling his turf. Visitors to the building can sometimes find him napping on a ledge above a radiator or sleeping on a floor, where dignitaries occasionally have to step over him.At the heart of government, he specializes in power naps.