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The Odd Truth, May 30, 2003

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.

'Biggie Fries = Biggie Thighs'

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The nation's second-most overweight state may ask residents to go easy on the super-sized sodas.

The proposed campaign does not plan to ask people to quit soft drinks, but would promote smaller portions, said Nidia Henderson, wellness manager at the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

Henderson's agency said that the state Medicaid program and the agency together spent more than $200 million treating obesity-related diseases in the 2000-2001 budget year.

"We're doing it because obesity is an epidemic in our state and among our members," Henderson said, adding that Americans have lost sight of what normal portion sizes are for food and beverages.

Henderson noted that a 6-ounce bottle was the standard serving size when soft drinks first became popular in the United States. Now fast-food restaurants and convenience stores offer 64-ounce soft drinks containing about 800 calories.

West Virginia is ranked second among the 50 states and four territories for obesity and general poor health, according to the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The proposed advertising campaign will be similar to an earlier campaign: "Biggie Fries = Biggie Thighs," which encouraged West Virginians to avoid super-sized fast food meals.

Warthog Joyrides Through Zoo

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It was anything but "Hakuna Matata" — Swahili for "no worries" — when an anesthetized African warthog at the Potawatomi Zoo took off in a van.

Zoo visitors had to seek shelter inside zoo buildings briefly Wednesday when Mando the warthog woke up unexpectedly and knocked the otherwise unoccupied van into gear, sending it rolling down a small hill.

The ride came to an abrupt end when the van hit a fence. The warthog jumped through the driver's side window before falling back asleep.

No one was injured, although Mando needed stitches for cuts, zoo veterinarian Jeremy Goodman said.

The entire event occurred in a restricted area of the zoo, but visitors were moved inside buildings as a precaution because the warthog, with its sharp tusks, is potentially dangerous.

Mando was taken to the zoo hospital Wednesday afternoon when his keeper noticed he wasn't putting any weight on a back leg. X-rays showed there was no break, so he was placed back in the van, Goodman said.

The movement of being put in the van, though, woke Mando up. Workers quickly shut the van's door to trap the warthog inside.

When Mando moved into the front seat, the zoo workers cracked open the door and gave the warthog another shot of anesthesia. Before it took effect, however, Mando hit the gear shift, sending the van rolling.

Pilfering Guard Tips His Hand

CINNAMINSON, N.J. — An armored car company guard admitted he stole some $400,000 from his employer when suspicious officials questioned him after he drove to work in an expensive new sports car.

Perry Vedder, 32, of Philadelphia, was charged with theft in the May 10 robbery at Dunbar Armored's office in Cinnaminson, where he had worked for seven years. He was arrested shortly after and released after posting $20,000 bail.

Authorities said Vedder was seen on video entering and leaving the vault around the time of the theft, but the robbery itself was not captured on tape because office security cameras were briefly disabled.

Dunbar officials confronted Vedder when he drove to work a few days after the theft in a 2000 Chevrolet Corvette valued at $53,000.

Police confirmed that $340,000 had been recovered from the home of Vedder's girlfriend. He had used $25,000 for a down payment on the car and $36,000 was still missing.

Neither the girlfriend nor two other guards on duty at the time of the theft have been implicated.

Landscaper's Office Wiped From Landscape

BOZEMAN, Mont. — A couple arrived for work at their new landscaping business only to find that their office wasn't there.

The modular trailer had been blown into a nearby pond the night before when a powerful wind roared through the area.

"I told my wife she should have paid the office bill because it's gone," said Bob Norton. His wife Julia Royston owns J&B Rock and Landscape Materials west of town.

Norton and Royston said plans to open their new decorative rock and landscape materials business on Monday probably will have to be put on hold.

"I'd give you a business card, but they're a little wet," Norton said.

He estimated the modular unit weighed 10,000 pounds. He and Royston hooked it up to a loader and towed it closer to shore and then used a float tube to reach it in hopes of retrieving anything salvageable. A business desk floated out and sank in the middle of the pond.

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