Check back here daily for the latest oddball stories that just may give you a chuckle or leave you scratching your head.
Fruit's pungent smell mistaken for gas leak, prompts panic
MELBOURNE, Australia — The pungent smell of the rotten durian fruit at an Australian university library has been mistaken for a gas leak, prompting an evacuation of the building.
Specialist crews wearing masks searched the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology university campus library on Saturday, but all they found was rotting durian in a cupboard.
About 600 staff and students had cleared the building.
A Metropolitan Fire Brigade spokesman said the smell alarmed staff and students as it permeated the air-conditioning system.
Durian is a tropical fruit known for its strong smell. It is commonly banned from hotel rooms and public transport across Southeast Asia.
Police: Connecticut man was trying to sell viper, cobras
MERIDEN, Conn. — Connecticut police have charged a man they say was trying to sell venomous snakes.
State environmental police on Thursday charged 21-year-old Cameron DeFrances with multiple counts of illegal possession of wild animals and reckless endangerment after finding seven live snakes in his Meriden home. A viper, several cobras and two dead snakes were discovered.
State officials got a search warrant after getting a tip from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that DeFrances was selling snakes through social media.
The serpents were seized and transported to a reptile facility with the help of a qualified specialist.
DeFrances was freed on $1,000 bond pending a May 10 court date. A listed home phone number for DeFrances was out of service Friday.
Woman charged with stealing butterfly from Ohio exhibit
CINCINNATI — Police say a woman who stole a butterfly from an Ohio botanical garden exhibit has been arrested.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports Springfield Township police on Friday arrested 36-year-old Jamie Revis, of Springfield Township. She's charged with theft for stealing a blue morpho butterfly from Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati two weeks ago.
The theft was recorded by a surveillance camera, prompting police to seek the public's help in finding the butterfly thief. Court documents say police used information from an Instagram account to arrest Revis.
Blue morpho butterflies are native to Central and South American rainforests and have life cycles lasting about 115 days.
It's unclear whether the butterfly has been recovered.
Court records don't indicate whether Revis has an attorney.
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com
Speedy Texas deputy avoids hard-charging cow
HOUSTON — A Texas deputy constable proved he's fleet of foot while facing down an agile cow that had a beef with motorists along a rural road.
Harris County deputy Andrew Ries was patrolling an unincorporated area northeast of Houston late Thursday when he stopped to assist motorists involved in an apparent traffic accident.
He learned one of the cars had struck a cow. The bovine didn't appear harmed, but it turned on Ries and chased the deputy around his patrol car, at one point striking the front of the vehicle.
The motorists are seen on video hopping on top of a car to avoid the animal, which ran away.
Harris County Precinct 3 Constable Sherman Eagleton posted on Facebook that his department often encounters "the good, the bad and the big."
Wayward cat captured at JFK Airport after a week on the lam
NEW YORK — A frisky cat that got loose at New York's Kennedy Airport has been captured after more than a week on the lam.
WABC-TV reports that Pepper the cat was lured out of hiding early Saturday.
Pepper bolted from her owner April 20 as they were preparing to board a flight to China.
The owner was moving to China for a new job and had to leave without Pepper.
Pepper was spotted several times in non-public areas but eluded capture.
Then on Saturday, the officer who led the rescue effort enlisted the help of a friend of Pepper's owner, who called Pepper by her Mandarin name and enticed her with food. The officer and the friend then grabbed Pepper.
The friend will be responsible for getting Pepper to the owner.
Information from: WABC-TV, http://www.7online.com
WW II veteran to graduate 68 years after leaving college
TOLEDO, Ohio — Like so many American soldiers returning home from World War II, Bob Barger started working a new job and going to college. Once he settled into his career and raising a family, finishing school was no longer a priority.
Now, 68 years since he last sat in a classroom, Barger is set to graduate from the University of Toledo this week after a review of his transcripts from the late 1940s showed he completed enough courses to quality for an associate's degree — a two-year diploma not offered when he was still in school.
"It was something I never dreamed of," the 96-year-old Barger said. "I knew I couldn't go back to school now.
"I'm going to be proud to hang that diploma on the wall and think about the friends behind it," he said. "I found out without friends, this old world wouldn't be worth living in."
The university took a look at Barger's old school records because of a friendship he struck up with Haraz Ghanbari, the school's director of military and veteran affairs.
They met five years ago when Ghanbari, a Navy Reserve officer, asked Barger to officiate his promotion to lieutenant.
Ghanbari later found out that Barger never graduated from the university, even though he took a full load of classes from 1947 to 1950.
"We actually had to go into the archives to find his transcripts," said Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College at Toledo.
The records showed Barger completed 83 credit hours — about 20 more than what's required for the associate's degree that he'll receive on Saturday. University officials say they don't know of anyone older ever graduating from the school.
"It's the right thing to do. He deserved. He earned it," Kopp Miller said. "It's so cool to honor a member of our greatest generation."
Barger was a pilot in the Navy, enlisting after seeing an advertisement that said "join the Navy and get an education."
He flew seaplanes for scout observation over the Gulf of Mexico and was a flight instructor at a base in Corpus Christi, Texas. He later was stationed in Norman, Oklahoma, after the war and planned on a career in the Navy until an explosion in a bunk house. He wasn't hurt, but carrying out the bloodied men changed his mind about staying in the military.
Barger returned home with his wife and young daughter and studied business and advertising while working for a paper company. He remembers history was his favorite class at what was then called Toledo University.
He never gave much thought about not graduating until just recently. When he was told in January that he would finally get a degree, he let out a hearty laugh. "I can't believe this. I'm 96 years old," said Barger, whose wife died in 2011.
Members of the university's Student Veterans of America chapter bought him a cap and gown that he tried on last week. "I fit. I guess I look pretty good in it," he said.
The assisted living center where he lives is planning a big graduation party for over 100 people. Barger stocked up on a dozen bottles of vodka, whiskey and scotch.
He jokes that he now wants to find "a cushy job where I can play golf."
Pelicans crash California graduation, 1 lands on red carpet
MALIBU, Calif. — A pair of pelicans crashed a graduation ceremony at Pepperdine University in the California beachfront community of Malibu over the weekend.
The long-beaked birds flew in Saturday as the class of 2018 was receiving diplomas outdoors on a lawn overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Video broadcast by KABC-TV shows one of the big birds landed among seated observers who managed to toss it back into the air, only to have it land on a red carpet at the center of the ceremony.
The pelican resisted efforts by several men to get it to move along.
It finally waddled away.
Information from: KABC-TV, http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/