The week saw the publication of the 2010 Eden Wildlife Report, which tracks the numbers of foreign species introduced to the UK over the past century. Compiled by Dr. Toni Bunnell and a team from the University of Hull, the report mentions wallabies thriving in Scotland, scorpions setting up home in Kent and aardvarks that have somehow emigrated from Brazil to Cumbria (Telegraph).
Of course, this won’t be news to one member of Britain’s thriving rod-fishing community, who this week caught a piranha in his local pond (Guardian).
Another place you might not expect to see exotic creatures is on your lunch menu, but that didn’t stop one restaurant owner in Mesa, AZ from putting “lion burgers” on the menu to celebrate soccer’s World Cup. Cameron Selogie of the Il Vinaio makes his “mane course” with genuine lion meat imported from South Africa, earning him the ire of local animal rights groups and several death threats, but not a reprimand from health officials. According to an FDA spokesman serving lion meat is perfectly legal, as long as it’s not roar (Scotsman).
Slightly luckier than the lions, one cat who has fallen on his feet is Oscar, a housecat from the Isle of Jersey in the UK, widely billed as the “bionic cat” after successfully receiving two artificial hind legs to replace the ones he lost in an altercation with a combine harvester (BBC News).
You might think pitting a rodent like mammal against a 12 tonne Triceratops makes for an equally one-sided match up, but evidence emerged recently that our primitive ancestors occasionally feasted upon dinosaurs. Seventy-five million year old “gnaw marks” of a kind characteristic of early mammals, and belonging to a creature not much bigger than a squirrel, have been found on the fossil bones both of Tricerotops and the crocodile-like predator Champsosaurus (LiveScience).
Sadly today the nearest we get to dinosaur flesh is turkey or chicken, but not all birds were prized solely for their meat. The huia bird of New Zealand for example, was once used to make the feathered head-dresses of Maori chiefs, until predation from accidentally introduced species drove it to extinction around 1907. But if the bird has gone its feathers have not, and one recently became the most expensive feather ever when it sold at auction for NZ$8000, i.e. $4000 American (Telegraph).
Holly Crawford, 35, from Pennsylvania, is set to go on trial today for cruelty to animals because she was trying to sell Gothic Kittens online. It's not the act of selling the kittens that has Holly in trouble, however. It is the fact that the kittens were pierced (as pictured). When humane officers searched her home in December, they found three kittens with ear, neck and tail piercings. Holly's attorney has posed the question “Why is it a crime to pierce a cat’s ears?” and she claims that she had no cruel intentions. Reader comments on the article (which you can read here) range from "punish the freak" to "if you punish this woman you should also punish people who declaw cats". What's your opinion?
A few months ago, an inspired couple went digging through their old photographs to find just one that didn't involve alcohol. Unfortunately it seemed that all of their trips down memory lane included mass quantities of beer (and what's wrong with that?). But those types of photos can make a negative statement when posted on social sites like Facebook and when found by employers, or even worse, mom and dad. The quick fix? Replace all of the beer with cats. Yes, cats. And thus, Boozecats was born! So kick back with a tall, frosty Himalayan and enjoy the weirdness.
When Heroes actress Hayden Panettiere decided to have the Latin for "live without regrets" tattooed on her back, she was probably not expecting it to be a test of whether she actually would. Unfortunately her tattoo, which reads "vivere senza rimipianti" is misspelled, the correct phrase is "vivere senza rimpianti". Hayden is, to her credit, taking it all in her stride and told a reported from the UK's Daily Mirror "It is misspelled, whatever, vivere senza rimipiantic means live without regret in Italian. I just put my own spin to it." (Digital Spy).
Someone else who's - so far - taking misfortune in their stride are the family from Oldham in the UK who receive upwards of 60 phone calls a day from people hoping to reach the chart-topping rap artist Soulja Boy. This is down to the fact that SB's latest single, "Kiss Me Through The Phone", includes their 12 digit phone number as part of the chorus, causing many fans to try ringing out of curiosity. Given the near ubiquity of tie-in media in modern films and television programs (think of all the websites spun off from "Dr. Who" or "Lost"), this is perhaps understandable, if a little inconvenient for Gerry Matley and partner Catriona Smith. "It's easy to understand that, isn't it? When you look at me, I've got the perfect profile for a rapper," joked Matley, 54 (Guardian).
And surely if a 54 year-old Oldham man can make it as a rapper, a 1 year-old cat can be a political pundit? A woman whose cat had gone missing a few hours earlier was astonished find out that it had made an impromptu appearance on a weekly live UK political debate program. That week "Question Time" was being recorded at a community college in Newquay, close to where owner Jackie Ellery lives. She was wondering where Tango the cat had got to when he walked unnoticed into shot behind the host and his panel of MPs. "My friend phoned me to say, 'Have you seen your cat on the telly?' And there he was," said Ellery (Digital Spy).
Finally, it is with regret that I relay news of the death of the queen of the "pussy joke", Molly Sugden. Her most famous role was in the light-entertainment sitcom "Are You Being Served?" as the pompous, and frequently inept, shop assistant Mrs. Slocombe, who could not make an entrence without commenting on how the weather/busman strike/energy shortages were 'effecting' her pussy (BBC News).
You pay $9 for the privilege of spending an hour in a cafe begging some cats to pay attention to you. Apparently the concept has become very popular in Japan due to a combination of factors that make pet ownership difficult: people spend too much time at work, and many apartments have no-pets policies.
As someone who owns a 15-year-old cat that insists on spending a large portion of her time every day sleeping in my lap -- and instead of trying to move her I've just learned to work around this -- I'm not really in a position to make fun of anyone else's weird cat-related behavior. If I didn't own a cat, and I lived in Japan, I'd probably be one of the people hanging out at the local cat cafe. (Thanks to Cassie Sperry for the link!)
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.