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Beer-guzzling bears and other strange tales

Barbie, left, got more time to treat patients and hang with friends after splitting with long-time beau Ken.
Year in Review

(CNN) -- While many may deem the presidential election and the conflict in Iraq the most important stories of 2004, that does not necessarily make them the most popular.

Weird, macabre, heartwarming, amusing and otherwise offbeat news items captivated readers year-round.

The Web site tracks the number of articles that readers e-mail to friends, family and whomever else using the "E-MAIL THIS" story tool. Here are's most e-mailed stories of 2004:

1. Bear guzzles 36 beers, passes out at campground (August 18)

Campground workers at the Baker Lake Resort on Washington State's Puget Sound were surprised to find a black bear passed out and surrounded by three dozen beer cans. The animal had swiped the suds from campers' coolers and seemed to take a liking to the local brew, Rainier Beer.

The bear was chased away only to return the next day, presumably looking for more beer. Wildlife agents captured the bear using honey, doughnuts and beer for bait.

2. It's splitsville for Barbie and Ken (February 12)

This year saw the end of many high-profile relationships, from the demise of "Bennifer" (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez) and the split of Paris Hilton and Nick Carter to the permanent goodbye Brittany Spears gave her first husband after 55 hours. But one of the year's most notable breakups was the end of the relationship between plastic icons Barbie and Ken.

The toy couple called it quits after more than 40 years of "dating." A Mattel executive representing the famous blonde twosome said that they planned to "remain friends."

3. Swimmer drives with shark on leg (February 11)

Luke Tresoglavic was snorkeling off Caves Beach north of Sydney, Australia, when a nearly two-foot shark bit his leg. Tresoglavic tried to get the carpet shark -- also known as a wobbegong -- to let go, but it would not relent.

Chomping shark and all, Tresoglavic swam 1,000 feet to shore and drove to the local clubhouse to get help. Startled lifeguards came to his aid by flushing the shark's gills with fresh water, which weakened its hold.

4. Pup shoots man, saves littermates (September 9)

Jerry Allen Bradford of Pensacola, Florida, received a gunshot wound when one of the seven puppies he was trying to kill put his paw on the gun's trigger.

Bradford decided to dispose of the shepherd mix puppies when he could not find them homes. He was holding two of the puppies when one of them discharged his .38-caliber revolver, shooting him in the wrist. Bradford was charged with felony animal cruelty.

5. Study finds frequent sex cuts cancer risk (April 7)

A study of nearly 30,000 men found that being more sexually active might reduce a man's risk for prostate cancer.

One theory derived from the study is that frequent ejaculations clear cancer-causing chemicals from the system. The findings contradict previous research that suggest a connection between more regular sexual activity and prostate cancer.

6. Police: Wedding guests eat victim (August 10)

Authorities in the Philippines arrested four members of a family when one of them reported that they had killed and eaten a relative during a July 17 wedding reception in Palawan province, southwest of Manila.

The father of the bride became angry when his cousin accidentally touched his daughter's bottom. The father and three family members allegedly drove the cousin to another location, stabbed him and cooked him using kerosene. The foursome allegedly returned to the reception and served some of the remains to guests. A relative reported the incident to police several days later.

7. Dog saves woman's life by calling 911 (October 29)

When Leana Beasley of Richland, Washington, fell out of her wheelchair, her service dog, Faith, called 911 by pushing a speed-dial button on Beasley's phone with her nose.

Beasley, 45, who suffers from grand mal seizures, had trained Faith with the help of the Assistance Dog Club of Puget Sound to call for help in the case of emergencies. The 4-year-old Rottweiler barked into the receiver until the 911 dispatcher sent help. Then she opened the door when responders arrived.

8. Canadians open arms to Americans (November 15)

In November, several Canadians reached out to American citizens dissatisfied with the outcome of the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

An immigration lawyer from Vancouver, British Columbia, planned seminars in Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, to those seeking to immigrate to Canada. An Internet company, also based in Vancouver, set up the Web site detailing all the wonderful aspects of living in Canada.

Becoming a Canuck has a price, however: People must pay a $500 application fee and a $975 landing tax and wait between six months and two years before citizenship is granted.

9. Study finds dogs understand language (June 10)

A study shows that dogs may understand more words than initially thought. German researchers cited the example of a border collie named Rico. The dog, they said, could learn new words and identify toys by name, retrieving them for his owner.

10. Woman discovers fingertip in salad (March 5)

A woman dining in a suburban restaurant near Canton, Ohio, found a not-so-special treat in her salad: a human fingertip.

One of the restaurant workers at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers had severed the digit while chopping lettuce. A spokesman for the restaurant said the 22-year-old customer "was pretty upset" after putting the fingertip in her mouth.

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