Tree of bottles sparkles in Lithuania
Here's a recycling project to start the new year: a 13.2-foot-tall Christmas tree made of 1,100 empty bottles of champagne and sparkling water. Lithuanian policeman Dalius Valukonis says he spent three years and hundreds of hours of his free time to create the tree using bottles he got from restaurants, bars, family and friends. The nondrinker said a metal structure with special hooks and construction foam holds the bottles in place. It's an eye-catcher that makes motorists in the town of Lazdijai near the Polish border snap pictures. Valukonis says he intends to build something even more impressive this year.
Cheetahs kill deer at National Zoo
Two cheetahs at the Smithsonian's National Zoo came across unexpected prey and the result was predictable. Zoo officials say a white-tailed deer was killed after it apparently jumped into the cheetah enclosure on Friday. A spokeswoman calls it "a normal and expected reaction" by the carnivorous big cats. The zoo says a zookeeper heard noises from the cheetah pen shortly before noon and found the deer carcass next to the cheetah siblings, named Carmelita and Justin. Deer are plentiful in Rock Creek Park, which borders the zoo.
How many does it take to lift a cow?
Homeowner Jeff Dyck called the fire department when his cow fell into his pool in McMinnville on Friday, the Oregonian reported. Dyck coaxed the 700-pound cow to the shallow end and placed a wooden ramp into the pool before the firefighters arrived. The firefighters put straps around the animal's body, and Dyck lured him up the ramp with a bucket of oats. But the cow slipped and fell on its side. So to turn the cow upright and lift it out of the pool, it took 10 firefighters, a man and two teenagers, fire officials said. Fire Chief Rich Leipfert said the cow was safe in the barn 4 minutes later.
Too old for loot
Mugger hands back cellphone
A man robbed by two men in New York's Central Park said they returned his cellphone when it apparently failed to meet their standards. Kevin Cook, one of two men robbed shortly after midnight Saturday, said one mugger displayed a gun and said he would shoot them if they made any noise, WINS-AM reported Monday. The robbers took a cellphone, a briefcase and a wallet. But Cook said one robber gave him back his phone. "He just took a look at it and he didn't recognize it at all. … So he handed it back to me and a minute later I was able to call 911." Cook said there turned out to be an upside to his outdated 2010 LG Quantum.
Compiled from wire services and other sources.