Last week, the Santa Barbara Zoo was presented with the Edward H. Bean Award for significant achievement in their giant anteater breeding program. The Zoo has hosted 11 births of giant anteaters – the most successful births of any zoo in North America – and boasts the oldest anteater to survive in captivity to date. Their most recent triumph was the birth of an avocado-loving baby named Nozzie last May.

A llama yearning for freedom escaped from a pen on the upper San Marcos Pass on Tuesday, briefly shutting down traffic on Highway 154. Llamas can get feisty, but no one was hurt.

Numerous stingrays have been discovered tied to the Goleta pier, stabbed, slashed, and burned with cigarettes. The perpetrators are unknown, as is their motive. However, the recent death of the “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin – who was stabbed in the heart by a stingray’s barb – suggests that the stingray torture may be motivated by revenge. An official at the Sheriff’s Department said he had not heard of the incidents; officials at the state Fish and Game Department did not return phone calls by press time.

Two local men were killed when their vehicle swerved to avoid a coyote, hit a guardrail, and rolled. Douglas Cameron Baker, 25, of Goleta and William Jae Wiersma, 23, a Westmont alum and Santa Barbara resident, were driving near Coachella in Riverside County when the crash occurred. Both men were wearing seatbelts.

Unconfirmed reports drifted in late last month of a shark sighting at Sands Beach near Coal Oil Point in Isla Vista. According to an account on the Shark Research Committee Web site, three friends were surfing at around 6:30 p.m. on September 11 when – paddling about 80 yards offshore – they were confronted by a dorsal fin that clearly didn’t belong to a dolphin. There have been no reported sightings since.

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