MARCH 12 2012 12:09h

Watercooler Stories


Gorilla settles in with rabbit roommate

ERIE, Pa., March 12 (UPI) -- Zookeepers in Erie, Pa., say their lonely lowland gorilla has taken to her new pet bunny quickly.

"Right off the bat, they hit it off," Erie Zoo Director Cindy Kreider said about Samantha, a 47-year-old gorilla who now has a long-eared pal named Panda to keep her company.

Panda was gradually introduced to Samantha's world as a companion after her old buddy Rudy died in 2005. Keepers figured Samantha was too old and fragile to deal with another gorilla, but a rabbit wouldn't cause any harm and would break the ape's solitude.

"To have something sharing their space that they can observe and interact with is always going to be beneficial," Kreider said.

The Erie (Pa.) Times-News said Sunday that Panda and Samantha have become fast friends. Samantha has been gentle and friendly toward Panda and even shares food and occasionally scratches its chin.

Zoo visitors have been delighted with the two roommates, especially the fact that Samantha has a buddy to hang out with.


Penguins waddle down aisle on plane

NEW YORK, March 12 (UPI) -- Passengers flying from San Antonio to Atlanta and Atlanta to New York said they got an unexpected treat when two penguins waddled down the aisle mid-flight.

Pete and Penny, the penguins from SeaWorld, became the star attractions Wednesday, ABC News reported.

"When we reached cruising altitude, the captain allowed their handler to take them for a stroll up and down the aisle so that everyone could take a look at the cute, 1-foot-tall penguins and get some great photos and videos," passenger Jane Worthington Roth wrote on her YouTube page.

She uploaded three videos of the penguins on the plane.

The pilot and flight crew allowed trainers to let the penguins out of their kennels, to the delight of passengers.

"Oh my gosh! Look at him," one said.

"They're just so cute," said another.

"Pete and Penny are obviously enjoying their training to become flight attendants," Roth wrote. "You'll note that since they were sitting in first class, they are wearing their tuxedos!"

The two penguins were en route to New York for the premier of the upcoming Discovery Channel/BBC series "Frozen Planet."

"It's the first time I've ever seen everyone on a plane smiling at the same time!" Roth wrote.


Bagel water spat goes to $2M lawsuit

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 12 (UPI) -- The water that bagels are boiled in has bubbled into a $2 million lawsuit between a South Florida company and a New York franchiser.

Andrew Greenbaum, who lives in Boca Raton, is suing The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. for allegedly claiming it had a water treatment system that would transform water anywhere just like the New York borough's, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Greenbaum bought into a bagel franchise encompassing three South Florida counties, but became unhappy with the company's claims and requirements, the newspaper said.

One of his lawyers, Robert Zarco, said the company's mandates weren't achievable.

"The [company's] water filtration system is not unique and does not render water equivalent to Brooklyn water," Zarco said. "You want Brooklyn water, go to Brooklyn. You want a Brooklyn bagel, go to Brooklyn."

Bagels are briefly boiled before being baked. Aficionados maintain water quality is critical to the process.


Cross-country drive on 2 gallons of gas

NASHVILLE, March 12 (UPI) -- A Middle Tennessee State University professor says he beat his career goal of driving cross-country on only 10 gallons of gas, making it on just over 2 gallons.

Cliff Ricketts and his eight-member support team drove three Toyota hybrid alternative-fuel vehicles roughly 2,582 miles -- from Tybee Island, Ga., to Long Beach, Calif. With juice to spare, Ricketts and his team made the trip on 2.15 gallons of gas from the pump, thanks to energy derived from solar, electric, ethanol and hydrogen power.

"I feel like I climbed Mount Everest," Ricketts told The (Nashville) Tennessean. "This has significance in life, and it has significance for mankind."

Ricketts has devoted the last 34 years of his career to research in alternative fuels. He said he hopes to make a coast-to-coast trip next year running only on solar and water power.