At age 20, Kyle Kandilian of Dearborn, Mich., has created a start-up business to fund his college expenses, but it involves a roomful (in the family home) of nearly 200,000 cockroaches. The environmental science major at University of Michigan-Dearborn breeds species ranging from the familiar household pests, which he sells on the cheap as food for other people’s pets, to the more interesting, exotic Madagascar hissing roaches and rhino roaches, which can live for 10 to 15 years. (Kandilian told the Detroit Free Press in July that of the 4,000 cockroach species, only about a dozen are pests.) Why not choose a more conventional pet? Because “mammals smell,” he said.
Hurry up and wait
At Atherstone, England’s, Twycross Zoo, a program is underway to try to teach quarter-ton giant tortoises to speed up. An extended outdoor pen had been built for Speedy (age 70), Tim, 40, and Shelly, 30, but that meant it took a longer time to round them up for bed at the end of the day. The Leicester Mercury reported in June that zoo officials were trying to use the lure of food to get the tortoises to significantly improve their way-under-1-mile-per-hour gait.
Louann Giambattista, 55, a 33-year-veteran American Airlines flight attendant, filed a lawsuit against the company in July alleging that it had subjected her to baseless hassles because of co-workers’ accusations that, argued her attorney, were wrongly “making her out to be a nut.” One of the accusations was that she was “hiding rats in her underwear (and pantyhose) and sneaking them onto planes” based apparently on Giambattista’s hobby of raising pets at home. The airline has allegedly subjected her to enhanced security measures for more than a year, allegedly causing her post-traumatic stress disorder and “debilitating anxiety.”
Revisiting a classic
When Alcoa, Inc., prepared to build an al uminum smelting plant in Iceland in 2004, the government forced it to hire an expert to assure that none of the country’s legendary “hidden people” lived underneath the property. The elf-like goblins provoke genuine apprehensiveness in many of the country’s 300,000 natives (who are all, reputedly, related by blood). An Alcoa spokesman told Vanity Fair writer Michael Lewis (for an April 2009 report) that the inspection (which delayed construction for six months) was necessary: “We couldn’t be in the position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.” (Lewis offered several explanations for the country’s spectacular financial implosion in 2008, including Icelanders’ incomprehensible superiority complex, which convinced many lifelong fishermen that they were gifted investment bankers.)