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WebClawer: Drug donkeys get busted, bucket koala's back story, Jennifer Aniston saves dog from traffic

In a case that could cast suspicion on lawn ornaments everywhere, authorities say they have busted a drug ring February 4, 2009 that used ceramic donkey statues to smuggle $1.5 million worth of marijuana into the Los Angeles area.

From 200 bad (fake) donkeys to an unfortunate (but recovering) koala, from an unfortunate (but recovering) opossum to a very lucky dog, the Web is full of animal news today:

-- The discovery of 200 decorative concrete burros, hollowed out to allow the smuggling of 1,800 pounds of marijuana, at the Port of Long Beach last month led to the arrests of 15 suspects Tuesday night.  But this drug-smuggling case, unquestionably unusual, isn't the strangest one Drug Enforcement Administration officials have seen.  A 2003 bust found 166 pounds of marijuana hidden in a trailer transporting a troupe of performing bears.  And, our colleague Andrew Blankstein tells us, "In a particularly gruesome case in 2006, Colombian drug traffickers were caught after surgically implanting liquid heroin into the underbellies of half a dozen Labrador retriever puppies."  All puppies were rescued, but three later died of infection.  (Makes the burros seem a lot less bad, eh?) (L.A. Now)

-- The koala joey who shot to stardom recently for using a water-filled bucket as his personal tub has a back story somewhat less cute than its photo might lead one to believe.  During an Australian heat wave, it was abandoned (apparently accidentally) by its mother.  "The mum had become distressed and disorientated by the heat so she left the baby on its own without realising," explains Tracey Young (the bucket's owner). "They're normally up in the tree together, in a pair, and we see them all the time."  It's now in the care of wildlife officers who plan to release it back into the wild.  (Courier-Mail)

-- An opossum who survived being shot in the head is in stable condition following two surgeries (he'll need one additional surgery).  "The opossum had blood pouring from the top of his head and out of his nose...This bullet missed the little fellow's brain by an inch," said Brenda Varvarigos of Valley Wildlife Care, who notes that the animal is being kept in an incubator and is receiving pain medication, antibiotics, feedings and fluids.  (NBC Los Angeles)

-- Actress Jennifer Aniston (whose own dog, Norman, was rescued and returned to her recently by, of all people, a member of the paparazzi) rescued a dog she found running in traffic on Sunset Boulevard last week.  "People didn't seem like they were stopping," Aniston said of the rescue.  6-degrees-of-separation twist: The dog, a husky, turned out to be owned by a celebrity hairstylist who's done Aniston's hair and that of her former "Friends" costar, Courteney Cox.  (Access Hollywood)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: The concrete burros used to smuggle $1.5 million worth of marijuana into the L.A. area.  Credit: DEA

 
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