1. Bizarre News

British sanctuaries swamped by unwanted owls, post Harry Potter fad

Published May 22, 2012

No longer give a hoot

Harry, it's time to clean hedwig's cage

"People saw Harry's owl in the movies and thought how cute and cuddly they looked. Now they are bored and fed up with all the work involved looking after an owl," says Pam Toothill of the Owlcenter in Corwen, Wales. Her number of sanctuary birds has soared from six to 100 since the first Harry Potter film. So now author J.K. Rowling has chimed in: "If anybody has been influenced by my books to think an owl would be happiest shut in a small cage and kept in a house, I would like to take this opportunity to say as forcefully as I can, 'You are wrong.' "

Stain on reputation

In comic twist, a name change

Staines, England, is now Staines-upon-Thames, in part to distance itself from the jokes of Sacha Baron Cohen's "Ali G" character of film and TV, the Guardian reported Monday. Colin Davis, a member of the Spelthorne borough council, said the new name is part of an effort to give the town a more glamorous image. Cohen named Staines as the hometown of Ali G, a stereotypical white suburban, wanna-be cool male.

A discreet distance

Almost the most exxxciting ever

Miami Beach Senior High School administrators made a shocking discovery before the prom: The school would be sharing the Miami Beach Convention Center with the Exxxotica Expo pornography convention. "We … hired police officers," said Gwen Zaldivar, the activities director for the high school. The teachers and security workers stood guard so the teens and titillating stars didn't mingle, WFOR-TV, Miami, reported Monday.

$1 million to park

Home for Porsche, Ferrari or Bugatti

New York City's first million-dollar parking spot — offering privacy for "a celebrity or a business person who is camera shy" — is on the market, the New York Post reported. The private garage at 66 E 11th St. is "for someone who wants complete privacy," said Dolly Lenz of Prudential Douglas Elliman. The parking space would belong to a luxury condo tenant, says developer Morad Fareed.

About half the price

Artist buys entire French hamlet

Courbefy, an abandoned hamlet in central France, was bought — stables and all— by a noted photographer from New York state. Ahea, an artist of South Korean origin who goes by only one name, has an exhibition scheduled at the Louvre Museum next month. He bought the hamlet at auction in Limoges on Monday for $665,000. The Credit Agricole bank had repossessed the hamlet after its owners went broke; the new owner hasn't announced his plans for it. But the town was spared becoming a reality TV site.

Compiled from wire services and other sources.