Originally created 04/16/04

Odds and Ends



BROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- A man shopping for trees at a Lowe's home improvement store was bitten by an 18-inch eastern diamondback rattler, a snake native to the Southeast.

"The gentleman thought he had hit his hand on a thorn but they discovered it was a snakebite," said Chris Ahearn, a spokeswoman for the Mooresville, N.C.-based chain.

A relative shopping with the man Sunday killed the snake, and they brought it with them when the customer was taken to a hospital, she said.

Ahearn would not identify the customer. A hospital official would not provide information without the man's name.

Ahearn surmises the reptile probably made its way to Broken Arrow with the trees, which were shipped in from Tennessee. The species can grow as long as 7 feet and often gives warning bites that deliver no venom.

After the man was bitten, Ahern said, store employees immediately scoured the trees for other creatures but found none.

"We feel like this is an isolated incident, but we are taking it very seriously," she said. "We continue to watch our garden centers for uninvited guests."

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SANTA FE, Argentina -- Veterinarians had to be called in to treat an elephant "depressed" about being separated from her circus troupe.

Mesry was taken from the circus grounds last week after local authorities said her participation in the public shows violated a city ordinance.

The elephant showed signs of distress soon after being transported to El Recreo, a town 300 miles north of Buenos Aires.

Veterinarians from the nearby Santa Fe Zoo were consulted and recommended that Mesry be moved again. Authorities said they were looking for another place for Mesry to stay while the circus tours over the next few days.

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BILLINGS, Mont. -- In most places, the days of a firefighter getting a cat out of a tree are long gone.

It's true here, too, though an exception was made when the number of stranded felines added up to five.

Battalion Chief Tom Bergstrom agreed to respond to the plea of a woman whose pet had a litter of kittens in the crook of a branch some 40 feet off the ground.

The woman called a veterinarian for advice, and he told her the tiny newborns might not survive the nighttime cold. Even if they did withstand the elements, the pet doctor said, the babies - with their eyes still closed - would probably fall out of the tree once they became mobile.

The woman had tried everything else and it was getting dark. Bergstrom decided firefighters would come to the rescue with an aerial ladder.

The mother cat, Bergstrom said, wasn't too happy that anyone had touched her babies but was calmer when the whole family was safely on the ground.

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- A teenager did more than let out a groan when she learned she had to dissect a fetal pig in her freshman biology class. She and her parents objected to school officials.

Morgan Merrick, a vegan who eats no meat, dairy products or eggs, believes it is wrong to dissect frogs and fetal pigs in the name of science.

She and her parents talked with a counselor on the day she was scheduled to start the dissection.

By midday, Morgan and the school had worked out a compromise. She could perform a virtual fetal pig dissection, on the Internet.

Morgan spent the next four days working independently in the library to complete her virtual dissection. She received a score of 85.