WOMAN BUSTED FOR SOLO MANATEE RODEO
Florida doesn’t have a monopoly on stupid people doing stupid things, but it’s certainly a market leader. Ana Gloria Garcia-Gutierrez was arrested at Sears, where she works, and faces jail time for riding manatees at Fort De Soto Park two months ago. In early October, the 53-year-old woman was videotaped riding three different animals. “She was jumping from one to another,” said Lynn Parrish, who witnessed the swim. Garcia-Gutierrez told police she was new to the area and didn’t know it was against the law; Florida’s Manatee Sanctuary Act makes it illegal to “annoy, molest, harass, or disturb or attempt to molest, harass, or disturb any manatee.” If only it were illegal to annoy fellow humans. Via LA Times.
NEW ZEALAND’S MT. DOOM ERUPTS
Well, not quite. Mount Tongariro, in a remote corner of the country’s North Island, is the next door neighbor to the scary peak made famous in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and it erupted for five minutes on November 21, spewing clouds of ash 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) high and scaring the heck out of hikers in the area. It’s the second such blast since 6,490-foot Tongariro awoke from a vulcan slumber back in August; before that it hadn’t erupted since 1897. Scientists said they expected additional blasts in the coming days and trails in the area are closed to visitors but tourism officials said that in the long run (is that the geological long run?) they expect the mountain to capture trekkers like honey catches flies. Maybe, but in the meantime there are fears about flight disruptions since volcanic ash will destroy jet engines. And it’s hard to attract trekkers to Mount Doom’s cousin if you can’t get to Mordor save on foot. Via National Geographic.
SLED-DOG KILLER WON’T GET JAIL TIME
The man behind the grisly sled dog slayings near Whistler in April 2010 will not be going to jail for the crime. Robert Todd Fawcett, 40, has been fined $1,500, ordered to do 200 hours of community service, and sentenced to spend the next three years on probation. It’s a weak penalty for the slaughter of what’s now believed to be 56 sled dogs in the spring of 2010. But even now, with Fawcett sentenced after facing death threats from the animal rights community, far too much of this case remains both murky and confounding. Supposedly Fawcett was ordered to “cull” the dog head count at Outdoor Adventures Whistler because the tourism operation was under severe financial strain and couldn’t afford to feed the dogs. But whether that’s what compelled Fawcett and why the slaughter of these dogs happened at all still hasn’t come to light. The owner of OAW apparently declined to be interviewed by the RCMP and was never charged or implicated. Needless to say animal rights advocates are still fuming and there’s a campaign underway to outlaw dogsledding throughout B.C. Via Pique News.
NBA-POINT-GUARD-SIZED PENGUIN FOUND
Okay, at 34 million years old, it’s a bit past its prime to still have the hops, but the Antarctic penguin fossil unearthed by paleontologists with the Natural Sciences Museum of La Plata, in Buenos Aires, would’ve stood a whopping 6.5 feet tall. “This is the largest penguin known to date in terms of height and body mass,” said researcher Carolina Acosta, who noted that the record had been held by emperor penguins, which reach heights of 1.2 meters (4 feet) tall. Exactly how modern emperor penguins evolved from something so much larger is still unknown, but scientists will return to Antarctica in the coming months to see if they can find any more fossil records. One other thing they’d like to know is how, given the ungainly movements of modern penguins, such a huge, birdlike species could get around on land. Or it could well be that’s why penguins evolved to be slightly more agile, if smaller creatures. Via AFP.