L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Weird

The history of unicorns and the case of one gone missing in New York City

Posteruni Typically, missing-animal posters encourage one to wonder: Have I ever seen that creature?

In the case of one "missing" poster seen on the Upper West Side in New York earlier this month, the lost animal was not a puppy or someone’s cat. It was a unicorn.

Described as a female with a friendly disposition, the missing unicorn in question and the poster belonged to Camomile Hixon, a New York-based painter.

The missing unicorn, in fact, was part of a larger vision for New York City.

“I was travelling back and forth in the subways, and I just noticed the dejection. I’m a pop artist, and I thought –- if I could just make one person smile. I was thinking about ways to do that," she said.

“A unicorn is beyond race, beyond religion. I wanted something that could reach anyone at any age. I thought, if I could just make a handful of businessmen on Wall Street think about unicorns, I will be successful.”

So on Oct. 29, she and a team of friends hung 2,000 posters all around the city.  By the next day, she’d received 350 phone calls.

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Tech company makes it possible to play with shelter kittens via webcam

KittenPlay SEATTLE — A company that has developed technology for controlling remote robotic arms over the Internet has adapted the system so that people around the world can play remotely with kittens.

The company first tested its system by building a paintball shooting gallery. But while Apriori Control, a tiny Boise, Idaho-based company, waits for paying customers, it's putting its systems through their paces at animal shelters in the West.

Scott Harris, head of Apriori, thought the systems would be used to meld real-world and online gaming, or as part of military training. A "beta" test drew more than 2,300 people to a website to shoot a paintball gun by pressing computer keys and watch their results splatter in real time.

Afterward, Apriori went to work on software improvements. It also decided to donate time and spare equipment to a good -- and very cute -- cause.

The Idaho Humane Society and the Oregon Humane Society now have kitten play rooms equipped with cat toys attached to robotic arms. Web surfers can visit the animal adoption groups' websites, download a browser plug-in and get in line for a turn at moving the toys. While they wait, they can watch over a live webcam as others try to catch the kitties' attention with a flick or bounce of the toy.

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Video goodness: Cat in a banana-split costume eats a banana. No, you are not hallucinating

How can one describe a video in which a cat wearing a banana-split costume eats a banana?

"Bizarre" doesn't begin to cover it. "Oddly compelling" comes closer. We've yet to put our finger on exactly what our reaction to this video should be, but we can't look away.

YouTube user and smush-faced cat aficionado sweetfurx4 has stunned and befuddled us with her video collection of cats participating in themed eating exercises. There's Cooper, above, a banana-loving 18-month-old Persian whom sweetfur describes as "a sweetheart who openly displays his affection for others with tongue baths and fluffy rubs/brushups." Then there's Mochi, a Persian kitten who dresses as an apple while eating an apple. Last but not least, there's Pancake, a year-old exotic shorthair who celebrated his recent birthday with a meal of ... you guessed it, pancakes. (More specifically, pancakes "topped with corn and tuna," because otherwise it would just be crazy.)

It's a lot to take in.

But we recommend you give it a try, because this video has already brought us nearly as much joy as the video of a Shiba Inu puppy barking and howling in its sleep -- and that's saying a lot.

If you share our odd fascination with these cats, we have good news for you: They are also the subject of a blog full of videos and photos of their exploits (and no, not all of them involve food).

Your morning adorable: Orange tabby kitten does his best 'Surprised Kitty' impression
Your morning adorable: Kitten hasn't quite gotten the hang of playing

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: sweetfurx4 via YouTube

Oklahoma man's attempt to break his poodle out of the pound lands him in jail

HYDRO, Okla. — An elderly Oklahoma man landed himself in jail after using bolt cutters to break his prized pooch out of the pound.

Instead of paying a $100 fine for not having his poodle on a leash, 73-year-old Edwin Fry of Hydro decided to bust Buddy Tough out. Authorities say Fry drove his lawnmower to the city pound Oct. 13 and broke into the cage with bolt cutters. The pair were intercepted by police.

Officer Chris Chancellor told The Oklahoman newspaper that police had received numerous complaints about Buddy Tough, who had been in the pound before. He says Fry had been told he could retrieve the dog and sort out the fine in court.

Fry spent several days in jail and faces a municipal charge of allowing an animal to run at large. Buddy Tough was euthanized while Fry was in jail.

Labrador who ate an entire beehive wins pet insurance company's award for oddest claim
Russian diver attempts to teach his dachshund to scuba dive

-- Associated Press

Three strangely colored lobsters take up residence at Connecticut aquarium


NORWALK, Conn. — Connecticut's Maritime Aquarium is the new home to three exotic lobsters, a colorful trio sharing the same tank at the Norwalk center.

The crustaceans are normal size, but one is sky blue, another is pumpkin orange, and the third is a mottled yellow-and-black calico pattern.

The Maine-based Lobster Conservancy says perhaps one lobster in a million is blue, and both the orange and calico versions might be as rare as 1 in 30 million.

Lobsters' shells are usually blackish-green. Genetic abnormalities are usually the cause of oddly colored shells.

Fiona, rare yellow lobster, finds a home at a Canadian aquarium
Just what is the wonderpus octopus, anyway? (Besides a great band name, that is)

-- Associated Press

Photo: The three unusual lobsters on display at the aquarium on Sept. 28. Credit: Associated Press

Pet alligator seized from Long Island liquor store

Liquor Store Gator

A pet alligator has been seized from a liquor store on New York's Long Island.

The Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says the 3-foot-long, illegally kept alligator was removed Wednesday from Alpine Wines and Liquors in Wading River.

Authorities say two employees of the store were issued tickets for possession of an illegal animal. The American alligator will be sent to a sanctuary out of state.

The store's proprietor told Newsday (subscription) that an employee had asked her to take care of it while he was apartment hunting and that she believed the animal was a monitor lizard, not an alligator.

Florida deputies wrangle, handcuff 7-foot-long alligator near elementary school
Kentucky men arrested for allegedly stealing lizard, trying to pawn it for alcohol

-- Associated Press

Photo: Suffolk County SPCA / Associated Press

Photos: Surfing dogs catch a wave, and they're sittin' on top of the world

Surfing dogs at Huntington Beach

Two words: Surf dogs. Two additional words: Huntington Beach.

Yup, it was that time again this weekend -- time for athletic dogs with a charitable bent to hop on their surfboards to raise money for animal-related organizations.

The second annual Surf City Surf Dog competition was held Sunday at the Huntington Dog Beach in Orange County, and charities including Chase Away K9 Cancer, Coastal German Shepherd Rescue and the Orange County Humane Society received a portion of entry fees.

Participating dogs were divided into groups according to their weight and experience level, and humans were on hand to help them along and ensure their safety. The event also featured a costume contest and a fundraising walk, and it raised about $5,000 for its charity partners, organizers told ESPN2. About 1,000 spectators turned out to see the surf dogs in action.

Surf City Surf Dog caught the attention of media outlets from all over the world, but our favorite headline so far has to be Asylum.com's "Surfing Dog Competition Ruins Non-Surfing Dogs Forever." See more photos and video from the event after the jump!

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Video goodness: Labrador retriever loves to swing

We love an animal who knows how to have fun, whether it's a miniature horse who likes to play a modified version of soccer or a golden retriever who enjoys dancing the merengue.

So we were bound to love Willow, a Labrador retriever whose idea of a good time is swinging on a playground swing set.

One small problem for Willow: Swings just weren't built to accommodate dogs, no matter how enthusiastic (despite what a certain Pembroke Welsh corgi might say to the contrary).

So this fun-loving Lab is at the mercy of her human friends when she wants to go for a swing. And they aren't always game for swinging with her, because doing so, as you can see from the video above, is rather tiring on the legs.

"The only way to enjoy the swings is to not take her with you," says YouTube user liquidblackuk.

But Willow is just so cute about her love of playground recreation, we bet it's hard to be mad at her!

Your morning adorable: Couch-sitting bulldog enjoys 'Family Guy'
Your morning adorable: Dog plays iPad hockey

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: liquidblackuk via YouTube

New Guinness world record holders include long-tongued dog, giant bunny, balloon-crazy terrier

The release of a new list of Guinness world records always means crazy animal feats and statistics. We typically await a fresh Guinness book with a mixture of enthusiasm and dread, and this year's list didn't disappoint.

Above, meet Puggy, a Pekingese from Texas who scored a world record for Longest Tongue on a Dog. (We have a bit of trouble with the wording of this record, which is Guinness', not ours. If, say, Gene Simmons were to lick a dog, could he theoretically win the record, ousting an honest long-tongued dog like Puggy? We humbly suggest to the Guinness folks that they reword this record in future book editions, something along the lines of "Dog With the Longest Tongue." But then, we are nit-picky.)

Puggy is a rescue dog -- making him tops in our book -- who was adopted by Becky Stanford eight years ago. "From being a stray dog, being dumped, to being a Guinness World Record holder is just phenomenal," Stanford told CNN. "I just can't believe it."

If you're wondering -- and how could you not be? -- Puggy's tongue measures 4.5 inches. As viewers of the above video will be able to tell, it doesn't fit too well in his mouth and can make eating a bit difficult, but it doesn't seem to slow him down!

See more animal world record-holders -- from the smallest cow and the smallest dog to the tallest dog and the longest rabbit -- after the jump!

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Swallow, a Dexter cow, named the world's smallest cow


We know you've been waiting on pins and needles to discover the identity of the world's smallest cow. Who hasn't? It's an exciting time for us all. So without further ado, we'll fill you in on the fact that Swallow, an 11-year-old Dexter cow who hails from Yorkshire, England, has taken the title.

Whew. The anticipation was killing us!

The little cow joins other newly named animal record holders such as Pekingese dog Puggy (owner of the world's longest dog tongue), continental giant rabbit Darius (the world's longest rabbit, measuring 4 feet, 3 inches long from nose to tail) and western lowland gorilla Colo (the oldest gorilla in captivity at 53) in the latest edition of the Guinness World Records book.

Swallow measures just 33.5 inches "from rear foot to hind," according to the folks at Guinness. (Why anyone would measure a cow "from rear foot to hind," rather than from its front foot to its shoulder, is a mystery to us, and we invite any cattle-measurement experts out there to weigh in.) That makes her shorter than most sheep and a whole lot shorter than the regular-sized bull beside her in the photo above.

Dexter cattle are known for, and in certain circles popular because of, their small size ("they appeal to the miniature/novelty and rare gene protection enthusiasts" and "are also the perfect old-fashioned family cow," according to the American Dexter Cattle Assn.). But Swallow is tiny even by Dexter standards; a normal female Dexter "should not exceed 42 inches in height nor stand less than 36 inches in height at the shoulder," the American Dexter Cattle Assn. notes.

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