The Odd Truth, March 4, 2004

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Mystery Sea Lion Released

SAUSALITO, Calif. - A sea lion found last month more than 60 miles from the Pacific Ocean with a bullet in its head was released back into the ocean Wednesday after the bullet was removed.

California Highway Patrol officers rescued the 321-pound male sea lion, nicknamed Chippy, as it flopped along a road in central California near Los Banos on Feb. 9.

Surgery to remove the bullet was performed at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, according to center spokeswoman Cynthia Schramm. She said the wound in the back of the animal's skull was no more than three days old at the time of the rescue.

Authorities don't know how the animal was wounded or how it managed to get so far inland. It may have been disoriented because of the wound and could have swum up the San Joaquin River from the ocean, officials have said.

The sea lion was released at the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Harming a sea lion is a violation of federal law punishable by fines and jail time.

Truck Caught With 900 Pounds Of Pot

INDIANAPOLIS - Police who pulled over a pickup truck because its load was blocking the view of a temporary license plate in the rear window discovered it was carrying 900 pounds of marijuana.

"It was piled up in big bags," said Indiana State Trooper William Etter. "Once you first stopped it, it was obvious - you could smell it."

The marijuana was compressed into about 900 bricks and wrapped in plastic, police said. The pot nearly filled the bed of the truck, and a drug-sniffing dog responded immediately to the scent, police said.

Police arrested the 21-year-old driver, Apan Gallegos, of Indianapolis, and Jesus Villegas-Ochoa, of Camby following the traffic stop Monday night on the city's east side. Both men faced preliminary charges of marijuana possession.

Gallegos was being held Tuesday at the Marion County Jail. Villegas-Ochoa was not being held there, however, a jail officer said.

Police said they were unable to determine who owned the truck.

One-Handed Golfer Beats The Odds

VENICE, Fla. - A Florida golfer has defied the odds, racking up three holes in one in six months while swinging one-handed.

Bill Hilsheimer's latest ace came last week, on the 157-yard, par 3 13th hole at the Bird Bay Executive Golf Course.

Robby Robertson, owner-manager of Bird Bay, was fertilizing the 13th tee at the time.

"It's not easy to even hit the green on that hole," Robertson said. "I've never seen anything like what Bill has done."

Hilsheimer, 68, lost most of his right hand as a kid, when he was run over by a train in Columbus, Ohio. He took up golf at 16 and swings only with his left arm.

In January, Hilsheimer aced a 157-yard hole at the Gulf Gate course in Sarasota. In September, he had another ace on a 105-yard hole on a course in Ohio.

According to the National Golf Foundation, the odds of an amateur golfer hitting a hole in one are 12,600 to 1.

Hilsheimer retired to Florida in 1996 after working 35 years as a photo engraver for the Akron Beacon-Journal newspaper in Ohio. He and his wife, Dorothy, raised six children.

"I never had much time to play golf," he said. "Now, I'm playing four or five times a week."

Would-Be Robber Gets All Wet

OMAHA, Neb. - A thief who hoped to rob an ATM at the Omaha Civic Center got a soggy surprise instead.

Police said the would-be robber apparently tried to use a forklift to break open the machine and hit a sprinkler line in the ceiling on Wednesday.

Firefighters and police officers responded to a fire alarm about 4:30 a.m. to find water filling the entry floor and streaming down ramps into the basement.

They also found the ATM hanging from a forklift just inside the main entrance, police detective Chris LeGrow said.

Parks Director Larry Foster estimated repair costs at $5,000 to $7,000.

Police said it appeared the thief had failed to get any money out of the ATM.

Actor Hits The Big Time

NEW YORK - A Southern California man is a million dollars richer - thanks to a $5 investment. The ART-newsletter reports the unidentified 29-year-old actor bought a painting at an L.A. garage sale for $5. It turns out the painting was done by well-known 19th century artist Joseph Decker. Now, the newsletter reports the National Gallery of Art in Washington has purchased the artwork for $1 million. The painting hung in the actor's kitchen for two years, before the man decided to do some investigating on the Internet. The broker who handled the sale says the find is almost too good to be true.

Shocking Revelation In Boston

BOSTON - Some 30,000 manholes in Boston will be inspected after three dogs suffered electric shocks walking over the covers, a utility company said.

The most serious incident was a dog's electrocution last month.

NStar spokeswoman Christina McKenna on Wednesday blamed contractors who dug into streets without knowing the location of power lines and then failed to report the damage they did.

The inspections were sparked by a case Tuesday evening in which a dog was shocked when it walked over an electrified manhole cover in Chinatown. Utility workers found that a damaged power line had also electrified a parking meter, McKenna said.

She said it could take several weeks to check all the manholes.

So far, no people have reported getting shocked.

'Masturbating' Lingerie Ad Yanked

LONDON - An advertisement for supermodel Elle Macpherson's range of lingerie has been banned, after regulators accepted a complaint from the public that the model in the ad appeared to be masturbating.

The Advertising Standards Authority said Wednesday it had ruled that the ad by Bendon UK Ltd. for its range of Elle Macpherson Intimates was offensive and could not be repeated.

The single complaint from the public was about an ad in Vogue magazine which showed a model wearing a bra and panties, and her thumbs were hooked inside the panties. The image was framed as if shot through a keyhole, and the model's head was not visible.

Bendon UK said the ad was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's film "Rear Window," showing a moment that was "feminine, luxurious and stylized." Vogue argued that the image was "beautiful with no disturbing undertones."

The Advertising Standards Authority ordered Bendon UK to consult with the agency before doing any more advertising.

Panda Personals

BEIJING - Wanted: single, full-figured female for committed relationship. Must be willing to tolerate her man's heavy eating and deep sleeping. Call the Shanghai Wild Animal Park.

Guo Qing, the park's only fertile giant panda, is on the prowl for a mate.

Park officials announced Wednesday that 5-year-old Guo Qing, one of three giant pandas living at the zoo, is looking for a lifelong partner, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The two other pandas, Chuan Chuan and Jia Si, are more than 20 years old and probably past any chance of reproducing, Xinhua said.

The 265-pound Guo Qing was born in China's Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in 1999. He moved to Shanghai when he was 2.

"We will take good care of the couple and try our best to make the female feel at home here," said Sun Qiang, who has cared for Guo Qing since he moved to Shanghai.

The giant panda is one of the most endangered species in the world. Only about 1,000 are estimated to live in the wild, all in China. More than 140 live in captivity around the world.