Different strokes 

After months of labor-management strife at the Taronga Zoo (Sydney, Australia), workers have resisted managers' alleged solution for getting Kibabu the gorilla to mate -- following his rejection of all females for six years now -- which would be to have the keepers sedate him, then stimulate him manually and collect his sperm in a container. But that, said one keeper, would be "Too bloody dangerous. What if he woke up?" It now appears that zoo officials are resigned to use technology instead, by a process called electro-ejaculation.

Earlier, workers had announced a partial strike for a 3-percent pay increase, in that they would stop picking up animals' droppings. Management responded by docking their pay $2.40 an hour for what they consider the "poo allowance."

Dog droppings

On Nov. 2, skydiver Ron Sirull performed at the Air and Space Show at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, accompanied by his dachshund, "Brutus the Skydiving Dog," to the protests of animal-rights activists but (according to Sirull) to the delight of Brutus, who was "totally turned on." Brutus doesn't jump alone; he wears goggles and rides in Sirull's jumpsuit. According to Sirull, Brutus' vet and the Arizona Humane Society say the jumps are safe.

Choosy beggars

According to a September New York Times report, New York City homeless-shelter workers believe that "50 to 75 percent" of the current population of 8,000 families (2,000 more than the year before) are "unreasonably picky" about moving into permanent assisted housing, thus remaining in temporary apartments at an average cost to the city of $2,800 per family per month.

Sara Kelly, an eight-year assisted-housing client and mother of six, said she could not accept a three-bedroom apartment, saying, "You had to walk through one bedroom to get to another bedroom to get to a bathroom [and] I can't live like that. [I am] choosy about where I live."

Neighbor hoods

In White River Junction, Vt., this October, Stewart Fuller, 41, was charged with looting about $30,000 worth of goods from the house of neighbors Roger and Shirley Labelle (who were away) and holding a three-day yard sale nearby. When the Labelles returned, they couldn't help but notice that some of their neighbors had their stuff.

Let them eat flan

Earlier this year, 89 wives, daughters and lovers of wealthy or powerful Mexican men posed chicly in extravagant settings, with complete lack of inhibition about their opulence, for photographer Daniela Rossell's coffee-table book, "Ricas y Famosas" ("Rich and Famous"), thus appearing to taunt the 53 percent of Mexicans who live in poverty.

Rossell, who comes from the upper class herself and is thought to have made the book in part because of conflicted views of her own upbringing, has since received threats from the embarrassed wealthy, who apparently miscalculated how their pictures would be perceived.

Parental units

Herbert Toney, 36, and Latisha Washington, 29, were arrested in October in St. Bernard Parish, just outside New Orleans, and face several charges including deserting their 8-year-old son.

According to police, the couple instructed the son to go into a Winn Dixie supermarket and steal groceries and beer. When a security guard stopped him, the boy pointed out his parents nearby, but Toney and Washington matter-of-factly denied knowing the kid and walked away. Deputies brought the couple in again a while later, but Washington said only that maybe she had seen the boy around the neighborhood a few times. Finally, she admitted he was hers.

Leaf me alone

According to a Reuters photo dispatch from the mountains of northeast Colombia this July, U'wa Indian girls' traditional cocora hats, designed to encourage chastity from puberty until marriage, consist of oversized cones made of layers of large sheets of green leaves, all completely covering the girls' heads, except for narrow eye slits.

Culture clubs

Suspected cult leader Scott Caruthers, 57, was arrested in September in Carroll County, Md., and charged with conspiracy to murder the ex-husbands of two of his alleged disciples. According to a Baltimore Sun report, Caruthers has claimed to be an alien who reported back to the mother ship by messages to cats.

Dem Mam, 54, head of a fringe Buddhist cult, was freed from custody in October, having been determined not responsible for three disciples' immolating themselves in a bathtub of gasoline in a Cambodian countryside pagoda. Dem Mam teaches that ritual suicide is the only path to heaven but told police that he did not need to commit suicide himself because he is already holy enough.

Feeling no pain

New York City landlord Denise M. Lyman announced she would not allow the family of Sept. 11 victim Danielle Kousoulis into Danielle's old apartment to secure DNA to help detect her remains because Danielle had breached her lease by failing to give three months' notice before "abandoning" the apartment.

Speaking of News Of The Weird

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