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The Odd Truth, April 29, 2004

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

Errant Sheep Sheared

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - For the past six years, every day has been a bad hair day for Shrek the hermit ram.

All that came to an end today. It took a champion shearer just 20 minutes to clip off Shrek's massive fleece before a live television audience in New Zealand.

Shrek is a merino sheep that escaped from his domestic flock six years ago. He looked more like a miniature wooly mammoth when he was caught recently hiding in a rock cave.

Since then Shrek has become a star. He lay quietly on his back as a former world champion blade shearer clipped more than 60 pounds of fine merino wool. It will be auctioned on the Internet, with proceeds being used for a "Cure Kids" cancer campaign.

Packing On The Blubber

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Woody, a resident Steller sea lion at the Alaska SeaLife Center, is packing on the blubber, tipping the scales at 2,017 pounds - an 800-pound gain since December.

And though the 11-year-old male is nearly twice the average size, the bulking up is normal, according to biologists at the Seward marine research center and public aquarium. It is nature's way of preparing territorial Steller males to defend their mating grounds in the wild.

Woody is one of only two captive Steller sea lions in the United States that has not been neutered. The other is at the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration in Connecticut, officials at the Alaska center said.

"This is the first opportunity for scientists in general to monitor this physiological period of maturation and development," said Don Calkins, manager of the center's Steller sea lion program.

Bulgarian Lawmakers Get Marijuana Letters

SOFIA, Bulgaria - Journalists from a trendy magazine on Thursday slipped envelopes containing small quantities of marijuana into Bulgarian lawmakers' mailboxes to protest a tough new drug law, drawing heated reactions from indignant legislators.

The letters were part of a campaign against parliament's recent decision to criminalize the possession of a single dose of any kind of narcotic substance.

"This is absolutely intolerable. This is criminal propaganda," legislator Borislav Tsekov was quoted as saying by the state news agency BTA.

Angry lawmakers urged parliament speaker Ognian Gerdjikov to notify prosecutors and to take legal action against the organizers of the campaign.

Three young journalists from the Edno lifestyle magazine were detained by parliament's security guard.

One of them explained that they had slipped letters containing the drugs into each of the 240 lawmakers' mailboxes in the parliament building to protest the tough new criminalization law.

Last month, parliament approved amendments that made the possession of a single dose of any drug to be a crime punishable with 3 to 15 years in prison.

The amendments triggered a heated public debate, with many people arguing that drug addicts need medical treatment, not prison.

Luck Ran Out For Sharon Luck

FORT WORTH, Texas - For Sharon Ann Luck, it was not a day to try pushing hers.

The 43-year-old woman was arrested by police and FBI agents Wednesday morning after she allegedly robbed a Fort Worth bank, then went to a Burleson financial institution in an attempt to deposit the stolen money in her account.

A dye pack that exploded in Luck's purse probably had a delayed reaction, authorities said.

"We're assuming the dye pack malfunctioned in the Bank One," Robbery Detective Mike Baggott told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Thursday's editions.

A woman walked into a Bank One shortly after 9 a.m. and handed a teller a note demanding money. After the teller complied, the woman fled with the note, an undisclosed amount of money - and the dye pack. Police investigating the Fort Worth robbery were notified later by law officers in Burleson that a woman had just walked into the First National Bank in the suburb when a dye pack in her purse exploded.

Diver Forgotten At Sea, Rescued By Boy Scout

NEWPORT BEACH - A diver forgotten at sea by a boat crew drifted five hours in the ocean, praying "God, I don't want to die," before a teenager aboard a century-old tall ship spotted him and fellow Boy Scouts pulled him aboard.

Forty-five-year-old Dan Carlock was left in the ocean by his scuba diving group Sunday. He drifted for hours about seven miles offshore. Carlock noted the time of day on his small, waterproof writing slate and took photographs of himself to document that he'd made it to the surface.

Five hours later, a 15-year-old crew trainee, Zack Mayberry, stood watch on the stern of the tall ship Argus, which was full of Boy Scouts returning to Newport Beach from Santa Catalina Island.

Mayberry saw something in the water and grabbed his binoculars.

The San Diego Boy Scout troop had drilled the rescue procedure the previous day and the rescue operation began.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Collin Croft says, "The Scouts definitely saved this man's life."

Bear Cub Carried Away By Eagle

OSLO, Norway - Wildlife experts were stunned this week to see an eagle attack and carry off a bear cub in view of its mother. The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research said it had not been able to find any other such attack documented anywhere.

Sigvart Totland and Jarle Mogens Totsaas were monitoring bears in central Norway for the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management when they saw the attack Sunday.

They saw a family of bears about 400 yards away that was climbing a steep incline. The smallest cub, weighing an estimated 6 or 7 pounds, was trailing behind by about 10 yards.

"Suddenly an eagle swooped down, grabbed the bear cub and flew away with it," Totsaas said Wednesday on the state radio network NRK. "The bear cub was screaming the whole time, and the eagle flew toward us and came very close. We could easily see the bear cub hanging in its claws, and kicking."

Norwegian bears where generally believed to have no natural enemies, which contributed to the surprise of the experts over the attack. "There has never been a similar observation," he said on NRK.