Mad Minute stories from Friday, May 19th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Friday, May 19th

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BANGKOK (AP) -- A morbidly obese wild monkey who gorged himself on junk food and soda left behind by tourists has been rescued and placed on a strict diet of lean protein, fruits and vegetables.
Wildlife officials caught the chunky monkey - nicknamed "Uncle Fat" by locals - after photos of the animal started circulating on social media last month.
Wild monkeys roam free in many parts of Thailand, attracting tourists who feed and play with the animals. Most of the monkeys are macaques like Uncle Fat, and they typically weigh around 9 kilograms (20 pounds).
Uncle Fat weighs three times that, tipping the scales at around 26 kilograms (60 pounds).
"It was not easy to catch him," said Kacha Phukem, the wildlife official who conducted the capture and rescue on April 27. "He was the leader of his pack, and when I tried to go in, I had to fight off a flock of them with sticks."
The subordinate monkeys fed into Uncle Fat's bad habits.
"He had minions and other monkeys bringing food for him but he would also re-distribute it to younger monkeys," said Supakarn Kaewchot, a veterinarian in charge of the monkey's diet.
"After he ate food given by humans for a while, he developed a fat mass, which became a type of benign tumor," Supakarn said. "He is now in critical condition where there is a high risk of heart disease and diabetes."
Uncle Fat is believed to be between 10 and 15 years old. To help him lose weight, his new diet is limited to 400 grams worth of lean protein, fruits and vegetables twice a day. Supakarn said she hopes that within a few months they can consider releasing him to the wild.
She said Uncle Fat is an example of why people shouldn't feed wild monkeys unhealthy food.
"I understand that people feel sorry for the monkeys and want to feed them when they see them," Supakarn said. "But please don't feed them food that people like to eat like snacks and soda. It is very bad for their health and the problem is entirely man-made."

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ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- A Pennsylvania woman has made a dress from more than 10,000 Starburst candy wrappers given to her by her high school sweetheart-turned-husband.
Emily Seilhamer is an artist and upcycler - meaning she recycles items by creating new things out of them.
The Mount Joy Township woman posted a picture of her dress last week on her Facebook page , Artistry and Upcycling by Emily Seilhamer.
Seilhamer met her husband, Malachi, when he offered her a pack of Starburst, his favorite candy. He kept giving her the candies and once she told him she wanted to make a dress, he started bringing her wrappers, which she divided by their bright colors.
Seilhamer tells WPMT-TV that "anyone's an artist if they're willing to try."
No cavities resulted from the making of this dress.
 
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ATHOL, Mass. (AP) -- Gronk will soon be tracking down criminals, sniffing for drugs and acting as the furry face of a Massachusetts police department.
No, not New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
This Gronk is the Athol Police Department's new dog. The year-old German shepherd is undergoing a 14-week training program.
Gronk's namesake was first reported by the Athol Daily News.
Chief Russell Kleber said Gronk will be the department's first K-9 officer in seven or eight years. He says he wanted to name the dog after a Boston sports figure and recalled that the real Gronk has a connection to town.
After attending a nearby charity event in February, the Patriots player stopped by an Athol Subway shop and ordered a footlong chicken, cheese and guacamole sandwich that the restaurant's owner dubbed the Big Subkowski.

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- The governor of Oregon has pardoned a fourth-grade boy who swiped a hazelnut and a pen during a recent tour of the state Capitol.
Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday tweeted out a photo of the boy's apology letter along with the hashtag #cutestmailever and the caption, 'I think we can forgive Samuel, don't you think, Oregonians?' The tweet immediately got many likes and retweets.
In the pencil-written letter, Samuel explains that he visited the Capitol Building on a classroom tour on April 19 and took the items.
"These things were not mine and it was wrong for me to take them. I'm very sorry," he wrote. "I hope you and the people of Oregon can forgive me."
Included with the letter were the pen and $1 to cover the cost of the stolen hazelnut.
In a return letter, Brown said she accepted his apology and forgave him on behalf of all Oregonians.
"Oregon is a special place. I hope we can work together to keep it that way," the governor wrote.
As a final gesture of goodwill, she enclosed a new pen for Samuel to "remember this event."

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LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) -- Authorities in Massachusetts are praising an 11-year-old boy who called police to report that his father had drugs in his luggage.
Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick said the boy also told officers on Wednesday that he had seen his father selling drugs earlier in the day.
Fitzpatrick called the boy "brave."
Police say they found more than 200 grams of heroin and the powerful opioid fentanyl, with a street value of about $8,500, in the suitcase.
Prosecutors say the father, 41-year-old Yamil Mercado, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges of trafficking heroin and reckless endangerment of a child. It could not immediately be determined if he has a lawyer.
The boy is in the care of family members. The Department of Children and Families is investigating.

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LAS VEGAS (AP) - A tourist is suing a Las Vegas Strip hotel, claiming a life-sized mannequin in his darkened room caused him to flee and suffer injuries.
Kent Jacobs Boutwell, of Southern California, filed the lawsuit Monday against the Planet Hollywood casino-hotel in Clark County District Court, seeking at least $10,000 in damages.
"I've got some experience handling hotel casino cases," said Boutwell's lawyer, Richard Johnson. "This was certainly a new set of facts."
Caesars Entertainment declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing pending litigation. On the use of mannequins in their nearly 2,500 hotel rooms, a spokeswoman said Planet Hollywood has traditionally been decorated with memorabilia, which is now being removed as part of a renovation that will wrap up this year.
Boutwell said he was shocked and surprised by a human figure when he entered his darkened hotel room in the heart of the Strip in May 2015. As he tried to escape the room thinking that there was a person inside who was there to hurt him, he said he suffered serious injuries.
It turned out that the human figure was a mannequin wearing a "Miller Lite" racing suit that was locked in a glass cabinet.
The lawsuit claims he suffered undefined injuries to his body, limbs, organs, mind and nervous systems, resulting in conditions that may be permanent and disabling.
The lawsuit claims a life-sized human figure in a darkened room is dangerous and hazardous and that Planet Hollywood should warn its customers about the mannequins.
Boutwell said the incident has left him limited in what he can do for work and fun, including a loss of life enjoyment. He's seeking damages to cover his medical bills, attorney fees, pain and suffering and wages and earning potential.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A pregnant polar bear seeking to dig her maternity den chose an unlikely spot: a snow drift along a bridge leading to an artificial production island off the north coast of Alaska.
As a threatened species, polar bears are entitled to peaceful pregnancies and the operating oil company, Hilcorp Alaska LLC, took vigorous measures to make sure that happened. In consultation with federal wildlife authorities, Hilcorp restricted traffic on the causeway, monitored the den and kept things mostly quiet until mother and cub emerged three months later.
"The bear, wherever she decided to den, she's the emphasis," said Christopher Putnam, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supervisory biologist.
Polar bears are listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act because climate warming is melting their primary habitat, sea ice. Short of action that effectively addresses Arctic warming, it is unlikely that polar bears will be recovered, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Polar bears don't hibernate, but pregnant females create maternity dens to shelter newborn cubs. If a nursing mother is disturbed, she can abandon a cub. Upward of 50 percent of cubs don't survive their first year.
Oil companies working near known denning areas scout for bears using airplanes equipped with infrared cameras that detect bears in dens.
"Typically they pick locations that are away from oil field infrastructure," said Beth Sharp, Hilcorp's habitat and wildlife specialist, who has worked on Alaska's North Slope for nearly two decades.
A Hilcorp security officer in December spotted a hole in a snow drift along the 1.5 mile- (2.4 kilometer) causeway leading to Endicott Island, a production island about the size of 34 football fields.
The hole looked like a den entrance, but Sharp was skeptical. Workers borrowed an infrared camera from the company fire department to take a photo inside the snow drift.
"There was a bear-shaped lightbulb as clear as could be," Sharp said.
Hilcorp and the Fish and Wildlife Service worked out a plan to minimize disturbance. Workers on their way to Endicott were shuttled by bus instead of individual pickups. Hilcorp parked a heavy-duty snow-removal truck. Non-essential traffic stopped.
Advocacy group Polar Bear International and Brigham Young University, which are collaborating on a long-term denning study, monitored the den with a remote camera system.
Mother and cub stepped out of the den on March 18. They spent two weeks around the den, eventually marching off to sea ice to hunt for seals.
U.S. Geological Survey researchers say south Beaufort Sea polar bears increasingly use land for maternity dens as sea ice conditions change. That could mean more cases of polar bears giving birth near oil field infrastructure, Putnam said.
"We don't know if it's a trend, but that's why we have these plans," Putnam said.

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) - "Cheeto" the lucky seahorse returned to her home in the Intracoastal Waterway on Tuesday.
Cheeto was released by staff at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium after being rehabilitated.
The aquarium has been providing care for Cheeto, a female lined seahorse, since April 26.
A seagull had dropped the seahorse at the feet of a little girl who was at Indian Shores Beach. The little girl originally thought the seahorse was an orange Cheeto snack, until she took a closer look.
While recovering at CMA, Cheeto was fed a diet of ghost shrimp.
"We are providing a high level of care for Cheeto and are thrilled she has the opportunity to be released so soon," says David Yates, CEO of CMA. "We are pleased we have had the opportunity to rehabilitate her."

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Kobe Bryant has come through with an assist for some high school students in Indiana by getting them out of a final exam.
William Pate is a student at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. He told Bryant on Twitter that if the retired NBA superstar gave him a retweet, the students wouldn't have to take a final exam.
Pate included a picture of himself and his teacher shaking on the deal. Bryant came through on Thursday, quoting Pate's request and adding a note , "Hope you have an A in this class."
Bryant retired last year after 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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After a $2 million upgrade and a year of hard labor, San Francisco's newest tourist attraction is up - and down.
Two floors exactly.
The San Francisco Dungeon, a haunted house-like attraction on Fisherman's Wharf that uses the city's sordid past as its theme, recently opened its new star feature - a two-story drop meant to emulate an escape from Alcatraz.
"You'll drop right from the very top to the bottom," said Michael Clarkson, the Dungeon's marketing director. "It's a real gut-wrenching drop as if you jump from the rock itself."
The plummeting is actually done in a row of secured seating - like a theme park ride. You're winched up a floor as sirens blare and strobe lights blink, and then everything goes pitch black as you drop two floors, landing six feet below sea level.
"The story is prisoner 13 is escaping and he's going to escape with you," Clarkson said.
The work to construct the ride took a year to complete. Parent company Merlin Entertainment knocked out walls and expanded into the basement below the themed rooms where actors portray spooky characters based on the city's Barbary Coast days.
During its days as a prison, 36 men escaped from Alcatraz - though only five got away. Everyone escaping "the rock" in the San Francisco Dungeon is expected to survive with a more than good chance of going home.
"There's some surprises," said Andy Koh, who was visiting from Singapore. "Like some sudden sounds, some sudden movements."
Tucked in between the Rainforest Cafe and Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, the San Francisco Dungeon is in its kitschy element on Fisherman's Wharf. Across the street, bakers in the Boudin Bakery form sourdough loaves under the watchful eyes of tourists as nearby fishmongers crack fresh Dungeness crab for masses of visitors.
The Dungeon opened two years ago as a darkly macabre spin on history with actors playing the roles of shady madams, crazed doctors and gritty prison wardens with references to days of shanghaiing and typhoid plagues. The subject matter is intentionally gory mixed with a healthy dose of humor.
"We go to all the gritty, bloody bits that might be a little grisly and a little bit dark," Clarkson said. "But they're actually the fun bits, the ones in history class that everyone was interested in."
The hour-long attraction is a world away from the bobbing fishing boats and seafood businesses outside its doors. But it's even further from the world outside San Francisco.
"Nothing to do with roads or politicians," Clarkson laughed.
Young visitor Lu Xiang Cheng emerged from the darkness of the Dungeon's harrowing hallways, landing in the gift shop where shelves pedaled $6.99 shot glasses.
"Quite scary," Cheng said, summarizing his visit.
But pressed about whether it was the good kind of scary or bad - he answered without pause: "Good scary."
A good scare-the-tar-out-of me adventure in the Dungeon will cost about $15.
But for a limited time this summer, for just $50, people can "sip their coffee while seated at bistro-style tables, nicely draped with red and white gingham tablecloths...all while being surrounded by live rats." You will get coffee, tea, or water, and a breakfast pastry.

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