Muggers Outnumbered Two to Six

Six muggers picked the wrong targets — two karate experts.

New Zealander Craig Nordstrand, a fourth-level black belt, and colleague Peter Roche were in Suva, capital city of the Pacific island of Fiji (search), last week for regional championships, reports the New Zealand Herald.

The two of them had just finished dinner and were walking back to their hotel when two men came toward them, asking for money. Four more men stepped out of the shadows.

Nordstrand took on four of the men. Roche handled the other two. The attackers backed off, but then surrounded the two New Zealanders for a second try.

"Do you want karate?" Nordstrand asked.

One man failed to heed the warning and moved in.

"I kicked him straight under the chin and into the throat," Nordstrand told the newspaper.

The struck man and the rest of the gang ran off into the dark streets. Nordstrand and Roche became local heroes for a few days.

"It was a bit of excitement," he shrugged.

Wallaby Welcome Wagon

KEY CENTER, Wash. (AP) — A family moving into a home west of Tacoma was greeted by an unusual welcome wagon.

A family member found a young male wallaby (search) — a kangaroo-like marsupial native to Australia — outside the home's rear door, authorities said.

"It was just tapping on the back door," said Sgt. Ted Jackson of the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife on Wednesday. "We're real curious where it came from."

The wallaby was taken to the Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society (search), and appears to be comfortable around humans.

"He just cuddles right up to you," said Humane Society spokeswoman Marguerite Richmond.

Animal control officers say the wallaby may have been raised as a pet, which is legal in the county, and then either escaped or was abandoned.

The animal now occupies a dog kennel in the shelter's isolation wing and feeds on timothy hay and carrots.

"Ideally, he should have kangaroo pellets, but they don't have those at Top Foods," a supermarket chain, Richmond said.

If no one claims the wallaby within a day or so, the Humane Society has arranged permanent quarters at a sanctuary in Redmond.

Woman Then Demands Red Wine and Garlic

STEYR, Austria (AP) — A medical intern at a western Austria hospital mistakenly injected an elderly patient with olive oil instead of antibiotics after mixing up bedside vials, officials said Wednesday.

The patient, a 79-year-old woman in the hospital for an appendectomy, was not in life-threatening condition, hospital director Harald Geck told the Austria Press Agency.

The mix-up apparently happened when the intern reached for the wrong vial and injected the patient with olive oil that had been prepared by a hospital physiotherapist for a massage, Geck said. The woman had risked developing a potentially deadly lung embolism, he said.

Geck said the woman was in stable condition and would not suffer any serious complications.

Ohio Speed Trap Goes Out of Existence

NEW ROME, Ohio (AP) — No roads lead to New Rome.

This tiny central Ohio village, known to locals as a speed trap that raked in thousands of dollars in traffic fines every year, is no more.

The village's dissolution became official Wednesday and it now becomes another part of Prairie Township.

New Rome's demise came after a court sided with Attorney General Jim Petro and agreed the village had been operating illegally.

A recently passed law allows the state to seek dissolution of villages of fewer than 150 people if the state auditor finds a pattern of wrongdoing or incompetence in its operation. The village admitted it did not pass a tax budget in 2004 and failed to follow election laws.

Wednesday was the deadline for village defenders to file an appeal.

The police department generated about $300,000 a year in fines from speeding tickets written along a two-block stretch of West Broad Street.

Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge David Cain also dismissed pending traffic tickets issued by the village, which affected about 2,000 motorists.

Needles Through the Camel's Legs

BROOKFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Traditional medicine wasn't working to relieve the arthritis in Jewel's front legs.

Brookfield Zoo chief veterinarian Tom Meehan said keepers had tried everything they could think of to help the aging Bactrian camel's condition. But in January 2003, a former colleague suggested another, less traditional approach: acupuncture.

The staff saw an improvement in Jewel's condition a few days after the first treatment.

"I hadn't seen this camel run for more than two years, she'd gotten so lame," said Mary Schollhamer, Jewel's chief keeper. "But when she saw me that morning, she ran all the way to the fence to greet me. I was so moved, I started to cry."

Dr. Barbara Royal said Tuesday that she treats the 1,600-pound animal every two or three weeks with the same needles that are used on humans.

"You have to be aware of 390 specific points on the body that you use in this treatment whether the patient is a human or an animal," Royal said. "Depending on what you are treating, you use 8 to 30 needles in different parts of the body."

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in many parts of Asia, where it's believed that pricking a patient with stainless steel needles in strategic places helps nerve and circulatory functions.

Oriental medicine views disease as a physical expression of imbalances in the body. Acupuncture and other treatments are designed to restore such balances.

Although keepers reward Jewel with a treat every time a needle goes in, she's not always happy to receive treatment, Schollhamer said.

"Camels can kick in any direction when they're upset, so Dr. Royal has to be careful around Jewel," Schollhamer said.

Royal has also worked on Bactrian camels at the Lincoln Park Zoo. She said she knows of no other acupuncturists active in American zoos.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

Got a good "Out There" story in your hometown? We'd like to know about it. Send an e-mail, with a Web link (we need to authenticate these things), to