L.A. Unleashed

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Category: Sports

Paul, an octopus with an eye for soccer, picks Germany over England in World Cup game

Paul the octopus predicts soccer games

BERLIN — A 2-year-old octopus oracle -- born in England but raised in Germany -- has predicted a German win over England in Sunday's World Cup game.

The mollusk named Paul chose a mussel out of a water glass marked with the German flag over a mussel in a glass with the English St. George's Cross, said Tanja Munzig, a spokeswoman for the Sea Life Aquarium in the western city of Oberhausen, on Friday.

Paul has proved to be a reliable oracle in the past -- he predicted Germany's win over Australia and Ghana and its loss to Serbia. During the 2008 European Championship, he predicted 80% of all German games right, Munzig said.

Germany's national team faces England in a much-anticipated round-of-16 face-off in South Africa.

"Paul's prediction was phenomenal," Munzig said. "He swam straight over to the German glass, climbed in and even put a lid on top once he was sitting inside. It was completely crazy."

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Squirrel causes a scene at Yankees-Twins baseball game at Target Field

Target Field's wild kingdom has expanded.

Three weeks after a bird of prey stole the show, a squirrel briefly interrupted play in the top of the fourth inning of the Yankees-Twins game. The squirrel streaked onto the field and charged Twins third baseman Brendan Harris before seeking protection from the rain under the outfield wall.

The squirrel remained on the field as play resumed, running the entirety of the warning track looking for a way out as the crowd chanted "Let's go squirrel!"

Earlier this season, an American kestrel captivated Twins fans, long accustomed to watching games indoors, by swooping across Target Field, grabbing a moth and devouring it atop the right field foul pole.

Your morning adorable: Baby squirrel kicks like a dog while being scratched
TV news cameraman frees squirrel from yogurt cup

-- Associated Press

Video: The squirrel is seen from the stands during Tuesday's game. Credit: PaulzStar via YouTube

Fear the deer: Wild deer crash into Wisconsin restaurant as patrons view Bucks game

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks' rallying cry -- "Fear the deer" -- turned into a punchline Sunday afternoon when two deer burst through the glass doors of a Menomonie, Wis., restaurant as patrons watched a Bucks playoff game.

The first deer apparently hurt itself, bloodying its snout and becoming dazed, said Jay Ouellette, general manager of the Stout Ale House. Two customers were able to safely wrestle it to the ground.

The other deer fled into a private room. Cornered deer can be dangerous because they kick and bite, but a restaurant worker managed to wrestle that animal down as well, Ouellette said.

"I could tell it was starting to get a little anxious," he said. "There was definitely the possibility of injury."

The incident happened about 12:20 p.m. -- shortly after the Bucks started Game 7 of their playoff series against Atlanta. There were about 30 customers in the restaurant at the time, many watching the game.

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Mike Tyson's Animal Planet show about pigeon racing amounts to animal cruelty, says PETA

Mike Tyson

Earlier this month, Animal Planet announced plans to begin filming a new show, tentatively called "Taking on Tyson," in which boxing champion Mike Tyson will showcase his new and unorthodox hobby: pigeon racing.

Tyson is apparently a longtime pigeon fancier -- according to the network, his first fight as a child was waged in defense of his pet birds -- but has never before participated in a competitive pigeon-racing event. "Taking on Tyson" will follow the world's most famous ear-biter as he takes on a new, presumably less violent, sport.

Tyson, who refers to the show as "monumental," professes to have a deep affection for the birds he'll be racing. "I feel a great pride acting as an official representative for all the pigeon fanciers out there," he said in a statement. "I want people to see why we love these birds."

But some other prominent bird lovers are less than thrilled at the prospect of the show and the increased visibility it will lend to pigeon racing, a sport they say is inherently cruel to birds.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals responded to Animal Planet's announcement by firing off a letter to the Brooklyn district attorney's office -- "Taking on Tyson" is to be filmed in New York -- asking for an investigation into its production.

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Michael Vick honored for courage at NFL award ceremony; animal activists protest

Vick1 BALTIMORE — Inside the banquet hall, a humbled but defiant Michael Vick was honored Tuesday night as one of 32 NFL players to receive the Ed Block Courage Award.

Outside, dozens of protesters expressed dismay over his nomination.

The award is presented to players who exemplify commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Each NFL team selects their own recipient, and most of the winners were on hand for the gala event Tuesday night.

Vick was picked as the Philadelphia Eagles' representative by a unanimous vote of his teammates. Once a star quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick was convicted in 2007 for his role in a dogfighting ring and served 18 months in federal prison.

"I'm very humbled to be here," Vick said before the award ceremony. "I'm blessed to be voted by my peers, to be here, and this is an opportunity that I will take advantage of and cherish forever."

It was the first award he received since being reinstated by the NFL in September 2009.

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WebClawer: Agency sides with allergy sufferers over pets on planes; PETA agrees with chef on cat stew; Tim Burton hates cats; Kobe Bryant is like a beaver?

Chipper Kobe

-- How is Lakers star Kobe Bryant like an animal? Let us count the ways. After missing five games due to injury, Bryant said Monday that he felt "like a gazelle" about his return to play. That got Lakers blogger Mark Medina wondering what other species Kobe, who's often described as "the black mamba" after a type of snake, might resemble. Los Angeles Zoo staffers Jason Jacobs and Dana Brown were happy to oblige Medina with their picks for other zoo dwellers with traits in common with Bryant. Among the animals they noted: beavers. "When I think about his work ethic, I think about all of these roles that he plays up to and including of masking his injuries and being there for his teammates and all the preparation he puts in practice and in games," Brown said. Jacobs and Brown also compare Bryant to a pronghorn, among other species. (Lakers Blog)

-- When Canada's largest airline, Air Canada, changed its pet policy to allow small animals to ride in airplane cabins, many pet owners were thrilled. Allergy sufferers? Not so much. Back in July, the Canadian Lung Assn. took aim at the pet policies of Air Canada and the country's next-largest airline, WestJet, which has a similar pet policy, arguing that "inside the small, confined space of an airplane passenger cabin, [dogs and cats] can pose a serious threat to the health of vulnerable people." Thursday, the Canadian Transportation Agency released a decision that seems to be in agreement with the Canadian Lung Assn.'s position. The decision stated that three people with cat allergies who complained about the airlines' policies can be considered people with disabilities -- seemingly a victory for the anti-animals-in-airplane-cabins camp. The decision doesn't overturn Air Canada's and WestJet's policies, but it does mean that the transportation agency will review the issue of pets in the cabin. It's also asked the two airlines to come up with alternate strategies for accommodating both allergy sufferers and jet-setting animals. (The Canadian Press)

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Tiger Woods may have 99 problems, but a billboard ain't one


Unless you've been living under a rock or out on a beautiful cruise, you know that billionaire golfer Tiger Woods has had a tough few months. Not only did he have to face the music earlier this month by publicly apologizing via live television for his extramarital affair(s), but earlier today another one of his sponsors, Gatorade, decided to drop him because of the controversy.

There was some good news for the troubled golfer. Recently PETA proposed to erect a billboard with Tiger's image on it with an all-caps headline reading "TOO MUCH SEX CAN BE A BAD THING." That was the hook. In smaller type was PETA's real message "... for little tigers too. Help keep your cats (and dogs) out of trouble: Always spay or neuter!"

Apparently Tiger (or his people) were able to convince PETA to pick on someone else as its de facto sex spokesman. For not only did the animal rights activists decide not to use Woods' image on their billboard (instead opting for disgraced South Carolina governor Mark Sanford), PETA has deleted its blog post that announced the plans for Woods to be on its billboard. 

Will any of this hoopla encourage people to spay or neuter their pets? Only time will tell.

-- Tony Pierce

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Photo: Tiger Woods drops his putter and puts his hands on his head after missing a birdie putt in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla on June 16, 2008. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Michael Vick offered $1 million to pose for Playgirl and donate the money to PETA?

Michael Vick Will Michael Vick undress for Playgirl to the benefit of PETA?

Talk about strange bedfellows.

According to Life & Style magazine Playgirl has offered the notorious quarterback seven figures to take it all off for ... the animals.

A spokesperson for Playgirl says it made the convicted animal abuser an offer last week but hadn't received a response. "I figured he paid back society for dogfighting, but what about the animals?"

Playgirl continued: "This way he could donate a large sum to PETA and all he'd have to do is pose for the magazine! It's kind of a win-win situation."

Vick admitted in August of 2007 to drowning, electrocuting and hanging under-performing dogs in his dog-fighting stable and was sent to jail for 18 months. He spent an additional 2 months in home confinement and lost millions of dollars in lost wages and lawsuits, including a multimillion-dollar suit from his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, which won the right to about $7 million of his signing bonus. But still, many animal lovers do not agree that the star quarterback has yet paid his debt to society; indeed, many protested his return to the NFL this year when he was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles as a backup.

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Figure skater Johnny Weir says threats from animal-rights activists made him fear for his safety

Weir VANCOUVER, Canada — U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir is staying at the Olympic village because he is concerned about his safety after receiving what he considers "very serious threats" from anti-fur activists.

Weir had talked about staying in a hotel because he didn't enjoy his experience in the Olympic village four years ago. Weir says arranging security at a hotel would have been too tough, while the village is under tight control. Weir is sharing a two-bedroom suite with ice dancer Tanith Belbin.

Weir drew the ire of animal-rights activists last month after he added white fox fur to the left shoulder of his costume for the free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

-- Associated Press

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Photo: Weir competes during the men's free skate portion of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 17. Credit: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Hey, that's no skier! Wild lynx makes an appearance at Vancouver Olympics downhill skiing course

Lynx WHISTLER, British Columbia — Beware the lynx!

Skiers and lugers heard the call of the wild in the form of a critter apparently oblivious to the safety concerns of officials at Olympic venues.

An orange-and-black spotted lynx sauntered across the downhill course during the men's opening training session Wednesday. Two days earlier, one of his -- her? -- brethren was spotted outside the perimeter of the luge track during afternoon training.

The lynx is a large cat native to North America. And take it from a Canadian -- downhiller Manuel Osborne-Paradis -- the lynx is no cuddly outdoor friend when you're speeding down an icy slope at 70 mph.

"Get out of the way," he said. "Oh, wow. You do not want to get close to that."

The downhill session was already on hold because of fog, and no skiers linked with the lynx. Still, officials issued a warning over the race radio in case someone was on the course. The lynx had its own agenda and hopped over the barriers lining the course and back into the forest.

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