AP News 

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Zoo Wolverine experiences 'sympathy pregnancy'

AP news, Anchorage, Ak. Ripper, the world's only captive 'megalictis' or giant wolverine, shambles heavily about his enclosure, belly so swollen it drags the ground. Every few steps he pauses, panting, and when he reaches the pool nearest the wall, he squats down and laps at the water, his tongue as broad as a human hand. The animal is as big as a black bear, but is a wolverine, side stripe and all - the only zoo-dwelling example of what is thought to be an evolutionary throwback.

"Ripper is experiencing his latest instance of 'sympathy pregnancy', or a form of bloating," stated Chad Tenwick, the zoo public relations official. "As the only known specimen of giant wolverine, he gets jealous of the pair of more typical wolverines in the next pen - Wilbur and Jenny. Jenny is pregnant, or will be soon, and just like last year, Ripper is swollen." The zoo official smiles. "The funny thing about it is that Ripper is a male."

"Same thing happened twice last year", relates zoo security guard Lars Tensen. "Wolverines are pretty noisy when they get intimate, and Wilbur and Jenny were at it. That was about 1 AM. I finished my rounds, headed back toward the elephant enclosure, and I heard Ripper growling and moaning in his cave at the back. He has a big stuffed bear in there that he goes at - are you going to print that? Anyway, he was growling and panting, and moaning just like a woman. He was at it for hours - I heard it on my next rounds too. Finally stopped about 5 AM - all I heard then was a muffled gurgling sound and thrashing noises, like he was sleeping badly."

And this morning, the zoo reported, he was found so swollen he could hardly move. "We think he gets so worked up during mating season that he drinks too much water and bloats. It always takes him a couple of days to get thin again."

The animal doesn't appear 'worked up' now, this reporter commented, and received another smile. "We don't pry into what goes on in his cave. We just consider ourselves lucky that we have him at all - if that researcher hadn't darted him a year and a half ago, we'd not have known this subspecies still existed."

The official then stated that a female bear was once introduced to the cage to see if the two species would interbreed. "It didn't work out. She didn't want what he had to offer, but he gave it to her anyway. Afterwards there was a huge fight, and we had to remove her before one or the other was killed. Since then he's had the pen to himself."

In unrelated news, police have begun a search for 17-year old Cindy Southers, an amateur photographer and volunteer worker at the zoo. "She was here last night about 10 or so, taking pictures in the late-evening light, and after that I lost track of her", the security guard said. "Her car is still out front, so she probably drove off with a boyfriend. She was nice looking, and when we get a volunteer like that working the front entrance, they don't tend to stay long.they always meet someone and take off."

A trooper reported that all animal cages have been searched, and the zoo grounds combed with no trace of Cindy found. "This is the third disappearance in 18 months - all young, attractive female employees. If anyone sees this young woman - blond hair, blue eyes, last seen wearing a green sun dress - please direct her to call the Anchorage PD and her other place of employment, the Great Alaskan Bush Company."