The Odd Side – January 25, 2016

Baby Fur Seal Found in Bushes at California Business Park

hayward, Calif. (AP) — An emaciated baby northern fur seal is recovering after it was found in some bushes at a San Francisco Bay Area business park, his second escape attempt in just a few months.

Hayward police said on the department’s social media page that the dehydrated and malnourished seal was found after someone called about the pup around 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Police say the seal — somehow — got out of the water, crossed busy Interstate 880 and found its way to the bushes.

Police at first thought the caller was mistaken and the furry fellow was really just a “possum or a weird cat.”

Police called the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. Center spokeswoman Laura Sherr confirmed that her team picked up the animal, which they hope to nourish and send back into the wild as soon as possible.

This was the second time the baby seal, who has a tag on him, had escaped. Pipester, as he is known, had previously been in the center’s care for malnutrition after he was rescued last November at Moss Landing Harbor by volunteers. He was released in December.

The center rescued a record number of northern fur seal pups in 2015, more than three times the usual number.

Alaska Burglary Suspect Identified After Locking Keys in Car

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A man suspected of burglarizing two Alaska businesses was delayed in his get-away by locking his keys in his car. A call to a cab company helped open the car but also led to his identification.

Surveillance video of the burglary and the taxi led police in North Pole, a city 14 miles south of Fairbanks, to seek a warrant for 27-year-old Joseph Michael Barria, who is suspected of stealing tools, stereo equipment and other property from a laundry and a fitness business.

The Jan. 6 video shows a man carrying items from the businesses into his car, then pulling his car closer to the door. Later, a cab arrives to help the man open the locked car.

“There’s pretty good surveillance video there,” said Steve Dutra, chief of the North Pole Police Department. The same surveillance system had been used in a kidnapping case. “It covers the entire parking lot and the highway,” Dutra said.

From the cab company, police obtained Barria’s cellphone number and name.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports police recovered $3,500 worth of tools stolen from the laundry in the trunk of Barria’s car.

Barria was not immediately arrested.

Prosecutors on Wednesday filed criminal charges of burglary while armed with a gun, felony theft and misdemeanor mischief charges. A Fairbanks judge issued a $10,000 warrant for Barria’s arrest.

The surveillance video indicated Barria was carrying a handgun and Dutra urged caution in approaching him.

“We have no indication he’s going to be hostile toward civilians, but yes, I would say, if he’s sighted, please call local law enforcement,” Dutra said.

Runaway Cow Roped by New York City Police Gets New Home

NEW YORK (AP) – A cow that was captured by police after fleeing from a New York City slaughterhouse has been taken in by an animal sanctuary.

The founder of the Skylands Animal Sanctuary in Wantage, New Jersey, Mike Stura, picked up the cow Friday morning in New York and says he’s named the creature after a popular singer.

The cow had been scheduled to be slaughtered on Friday. Instead, it rode through rush-hour traffic in a trailer, then visited a vet, before arriving at a farm.

Stura says the cow will enjoy “a life of leisure,” being cared for alongside “cow friends.”

Free Money for College Can Come Down to Simply Being Left-Handed, Red-Haired or Tall

SAN JOSE, Calif. (TNS) – Are you white and living in Hawaii? A Jewish orphan studying aeronautical engineering? Or maybe your mom, dad or grandma teaches in Antioch, Calif.?

The University of California may have a scholarship just for you.

Alongside essay questions and SAT scores, UC’s application for aspiring students has become a virtual matchmaker for scholarship endowments, asking applicants everything from whether they are small-town mechanics, have ancestors from Pon Yup, China, or are interested in dairying, dry-land farming or dance.

“One of my friends really did get one for having red hair and freckles,” said Grace O’Toole, a UC Berkeley freshman who has neither.

At UC, there’s even a scholarship for USA Freestyle Martial Arts “red belts.”

O’Toole applied for more than 20 private scholarships She said she was “a little bit thrown” by the oddness of the UC scholarship list but filled it out anyway, not wanting to close off any possibilities.

Berkeley High School counselor Teri Goodman advises her students to check all of the boxes that apply to them in the UC application, including one for disadvantaged minority students attending Berkeley High.

She finds some of the items funny, she said, but she doesn’t think her students are all that amused.

“I think they’re just sort of wrapped up in the overwhelmingness of it all,” she said. “I don’t think they see the irony that’s sometimes there or the oddness of the question.”