Daily Digest: Wild animals, bridges, and Wayne Newton

Kyle Potter

Here’s your Daily Digest for Wednesday, Oct. 19:

Lions and tigers and bears (and wolves)

Police officers in the eastern Ohio town of Zanesville are hunting down about 50 exotic animals on the loose, according to the Associated Press.

Terry Thompson, owner of the Muskingum County Animal Farm – home to wild cats, bears, wolves, giraffes, camels and more – set the animals free Tuesday night and killed himself.

Schools in town have closed, and signs on the streets have been changed to warn drivers to stay in the cars as the authorities work to round up the animals set loose from a nearby exotic animal preserve. As of about 9:30 a.m. CST, the county sherrif said 43 or 44 of the beasts had been killed, according to the New York Times.

“We did not have any tranquilizer darts with us; we don’t carry them,” Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said.

Twin Cities bridges aren’t great, but better than average

About 6 percent of bridges in the Twin Cities metro area are structurally deficient, according to a report by Transportation for America.

One in 17 bridges in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, or 154 bridges total, are in need of repairs. That’s better than the national average – one in nine bridges in the U.S. is structurally deficient.

Among the 30 largest cities nationwide, the Twin Cities is in the middle of the pack for the percentage of its bridges that need repairs.

Minnesota ramped up its bridge repair and replacement program after Interstate 35W bridge collapsed in August 2007, according to the Pioneer Press.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation targeted 140 structurally deficient or “fracture critical” bridges, and will have fixed about half of them by the end of the year, MnDOT chief bridge engineer Nancy Daubenberger told the PiPress.

“I’d say MnDOT is making good progress in carrying out the major bridge program that accelerated the repair and replacement of these state highway bridges,” Daubenberger said.

The best endorsement ever

Is this the boost Michele Bachmann needed?

Well, probably not. But getting a little support from Las Vegas superstar Wayne Newton can’t hurt.

Newton and Bachmann went on Fox News together last night after the Republican presidential debate, and the 69-year-old singer said: “I watched the entire debate and I can’t tell you how proud I am of this lady. I will support this beautiful lady as long as she wants to go.”

“This is the picture of America right here,” Bachmann responded as she pointed at Newton.

So the picture of America is an unreasonably deep October tan and countless plastic surgeries? Sounds about right.