Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, December 12th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, December 12th

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma City native Gayla Peevey has welcomed another hippopotamus to the city's zoo, more than 60 years after her song about wanting one for Christmas helped the facility purchase its first.
The singer was on hand as the 26-year-old pygmy hippopotamus Francesca made her first Oklahoma public appearance since moving from the San Diego Zoo.
In 1953, the then 10-year-old Peevey sang the novelty hit, "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas." It led to a statewide fund drive in which children donated dimes to purchase and bring a pachyderm to the zoo.
Peevey also was there in December 1953 when the Nile hippopotamus Mathilda arrived.
Francesca joins 43-year-old Wolee in the zoo's pachyderm exhibit.
Pygmy hippos are listed as endangered with fewer than 3,000 in the wild.

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NEW YORK (AP) - Fossils from New Zealand have revealed a giant penguin that was as big as a grown man, roughly the size of the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The creature was slightly shorter in length and about 20 pounds (9 kilograms) heavier than the official stats for hockey star Sidney Crosby. It measured nearly 5 feet, 10 inches (1.77 meters) long when swimming and weighed in at 223 pounds (101 kilograms).
If the penguin and the Penguin faced off on the ice, however, things would look different. When standing, the ancient bird was maybe only 5-foot-3 (1.6 meters).
The newly found bird is about 7 inches (18 centimeters) longer than any other ancient penguin that has left a substantial portion of a skeleton, said Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. A potentially bigger rival is known only from a fragment of leg bone, making a size estimate difficult.
The biggest penguin today, the emperor in Antarctica, stands less than 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall.
Mayr and others describe the giant creature in a paper released Tuesday by the journal Nature Communications. They named it Kumimanu biceae, which refers to Maori words for a large mythological monster and a bird, and the mother of one of the study's authors. The fossils are 56 million to 60 million years old.
That's nearly as old as the very earliest known penguin fossils, which were much smaller, said Daniel Ksepka, curator at the Bruce Museum of Greenwich, Connecticut. He has studied New Zealand fossil penguins but didn't participate in the new study.
The new discovery shows penguins "got big very rapidly" after the mass extinction of 66 million years ago that's best known for killing off the dinosaurs, he wrote in an email.
That event played a big role in penguin history. Beforehand, a non-flying seabird would be threatened by big marine reptile predators, which also would compete with the birds for food. But once the extinction wiped out those reptiles, the ability to fly was not so crucial, opening the door for penguins to appear.
Birds often evolve toward larger sizes after they lose the ability to fly, Mayr said. In fact, the new paper concludes that big size appeared more than once within the penguin family tree.
What happened to the giants?
Mayr said researchers believe they died out when large marine mammals like toothed whales and seals showed up and provided competition for safe breeding places and food. The newcomers may also have hunted the big penguins, he said.
 
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LONDON (AP) - Part of a monster fatberg that clogged one of London's sewers is destined for fame in a museum.
The Museum of London says it will put the only remaining chunk of the 130-metric-ton (143-U.S.-ton) mass of oil, fat, diapers and baby wipes on display early next year.
Workers for utility company Thames Water spent weeks this year dislodging the smelly 250-meter-long (820-foot-long) blob by breaking it up with high-powered hoses.
The museum's shoebox-sized chunk is all that remains. The rest has been converted to biofuel.
Curator Vyki Sparkes said Tuesday that it will be "one of the most fascinating and disgusting objects we have ever had on display."
It has been air-dried to reduce the smell and will be displayed in a sealed unit.

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Police in western New York have charged a man who they say impersonated a police officer in an attempt to get discounted coffee.
WIVB-TV reports the man flashed a fake badge and gun at a Starbucks in Buffalo around 11 p.m. Friday. Police say the man claimed he was a detective and asked for a discount.
Authorities say the man then left Starbucks and tried to get into Spot Coffee after closing time by claiming he was a police officer. He was later arrested.
Police say the man was carrying a BB gun.
Police have charged the 48-year-old Buffalo man with criminal trespassing, criminal impersonation of a police officer and menacing.

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Reindeer are supposed to pull Santa Claus' sleigh, but in Oregon recently, a red-suited man on a sled wound up pushing a deer.
The reverse-reality Christmas-season tale played out when a deer wandered onto a frozen golf course pond in Sunriver, Oregon, on Friday and then lost its footing.
Try as it might, it couldn't get all its legs underneath him. It skidded and slithered, and its legs buckled.
Along came firefighter Jeff "JJ" Johnston, astride a new ice-rescue sled that was as bright red as the suit he wore, and as the nose on Rudolph the reindeer, which guided Santa's sleigh one foggy Christmas Eve.
Benjamin O'Keefe, a captain in the fire department of the resort and residential community, had his camera rolling. His video has become a sensation, garnering millions of views and picked up by broadcasters in the United States and overseas.
The young deer's hind legs began pumping, but it couldn't get up on its front legs. It was on an icy treadmill, going nowhere.
Johnston got close, spoke calming words to the deer and - slipping a bit himself as a tried to gain traction - gently pushed it with the front of the sled to the edge of the pond. Even then, the deer needed some coaxing. It seemed to have enjoyed the slippery ride.
Johnston tapped it on the head with the back of his gloved hand, then scratched the top of its head and ears, like you'd pet a dog.
The deer tried to get onto the sled before it turned around. Pushed once more to the snowy ground, it gained solid footing and, with a wave from Johnston, scampered off, presumably to join its mates in some deer games.
"JJ was talking to it the whole time," said Tammie Waters, office manager for the Sunriver Fire Department. "The deer played along pretty good."
It was the inaugural rescue mission for the sled, which was purchased with a grant from Firehouse Subs, a sandwich restaurant chain, she said. She hopes it never happens, but when someone falls through the ice or is stuck on thin ice, the sled will be put to use.
"It was a great way to get training, and rescue a deer," Waters said.

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LAWTON, Mich. (AP) - A store owner says he used a snowplow to help capture a man who allegedly stole lottery tickets from his southwestern Michigan store.
Carl Trumbla tells WWMT-TV the masked man walked into Country Lakes General Store in Van Buren County on Monday with a scratch-off ticket, claiming it was a winner. Trumbla says he turned his back to scan the ticket and the man fled on foot with other tickets.
Trumbla says he chased the man using a truck and yelled at him to stop before slowing down and knocking him over with the truck's plow. Trumbla says the man got up and kept running, so Trumbla tackled him.
The sheriff's department says the suspect, who had a machete in his pants, had possible broken bones and will face charges.

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - San Bernardino homeowners say a block of ice fell out of the sky, tore through their roof and landed in their bedroom.
The Press-Enterprise reports Claudell Curry and Odell Marie Curry say their home shook violently as a chunk of ice the size of a car engine fell into their home Sunday night.
The couple is thankful they did not go to bed before the ice fell.
Last month, a chunk of ice fell into a home in Chino, 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of San Bernardino, also damaging the roof,
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor believes the ice that fell onto Chino home could have formed on the outside of a passenger airliner.
The Currys reported the incident to the police and their insurance company.

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BERLIN (AP) - German police say the pilot of a passenger jet destined for Zurich made an unscheduled stop at Stuttgart airport because a Swiss passenger become aggressive after being denied champagne.
Reutlingen police say crew members were unable to calm the 44-year-old business class passenger, who was angered by their refusal to serve her more sparkling wine on the flight from Moscow late Saturday.
Police said in a statement Sunday that the woman, who wasn't named, was escorted off the Airbus A320 and ordered to pay a security of 5,000 euros ($5,871).
They said the 43 passengers on board were never in danger, but the total cost involved in the unplanned stopover likely amounted to several tens of thousands of euros.

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HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut police are looking for the suspect in the theft of a bag of cheeseburgers.
Hamden Police Capt. Ronald Smith says the 23-year-old victim was walking on the street carrying the bag of cheeseburgers Saturday night.
The New Haven Register reports he was then held up by an armed man who fled on foot with the victim's cheeseburgers.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Hamden police.

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(Canadian Press) Uber is apologizing to a customer who was charged more than $18,000 for a short ride in downtown Toronto.
Photos posted on social media over the weekend showed that an Uber rider was billed $18,518.50 for a 21-minute Uber ride.
An Uber spokesperson confirmed the incident, and says the rider had been fully refunded.
Uber staff say the massive over-charge was a result of driver error, not a technical glitch.
Uber says the ride in question took place in a traditional taxi cab signed up to the ride hailing service - an option available to customers in Toronto - and that the driver made a mistake when entering the details of the fare into his cab's meter.
The spokesperson says the company continues to look into what happened.
 

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