PAGE 6A Laredo Morning Times Saturday, December 25, 1999
Beanie Baby fate Python not to blame for
in hands of fans owner’s strange death
PORT ORANGE, Fla. (AP) — humans or reptiles.
BY BENNIE M. CURRIE refused to clarify. Police found a man slumped Authorities found Robertson
Associated Press Writer ”It‘s the spirit of P.T. Barnum dead over the open cage of his sitting in a rocking chair with his
still alive,” said toy industry con- pet python with fang marks on head lying face down in the
CHICAGO — Just two weeks sultant Chris Byrne, referring to his forehead. Authorities aren‘t large cage of the ailing snake. A
after saying it would no longer the shameless circus promoter. blaming the snake, however: bottle of medication was found
manufacture Beanie Babies, Ty ”How do you milk even more The non-venomous breed kills inside its cage, Cmdr. Mike
Inc. said today that fans of the publicity out of a 4-inch stuffed its prey by squeezing. Sheridan said.
toys will have the last word on toy?” AP photo ”We‘re pursuing this at this ”It‘s the assumption of some
whether production should be In a message posted on the WILL THEY STAY, OR WILL THEY GO?: Popular Beanie Baby figures point just as if the snake didn‘t investigators that he was trying
halted. company‘s Web site today, Ty rest on a store shelf at a specialty store in Chicago. exist,” said Jim Downing, a med- to treat the snake,” Sheridan
The company had said it Warner, owner of the Oak Babies in your hands,” the mes- ing a craze that made it hun- ical examiner‘s investigator. said.
would stop production after Brook, Ill.-based firm, said he sage said. dreds of millions of dollars and The snake, in fact, is gone: It The reticulated python was
Dec. 31. That followed a sur- has been overwhelmed by fans The phones were not pushed prices for some of the had a mouth disease and has coiled under a nearby table with
prise announcement over the asking him to reconsider his answered at the company‘s collectible toys as high as been euthanized. foam on its mouth. Downing
summer when the company decision. headquarters today. $6,000. Toxicology tests will be per- said the only signs on trauma
said it planned to ”retire” the ”After much thought, I am will- The company began making But sales slowed over the past formed to determine what killed on Robertson‘s body were the
dolls by the end of the year, but ing to put the fate of Beanie Beanie Babies in 1993, start- year. While adult collectors still Robert Robertson, 32, who was two fang marks, which were
buy the stuffed dolls, many chil- found by investigators at his encrusted with dried blood.
dren are now more interested in home early Tuesday. Police also found four other
‘Spontaneous travel’ booms on Web other toys.
The vote is to be held over a
Police were called by relatives
who had come by to check on
snakes at Robertson‘s home,
and all were taken to the Halifax
48-hour period beginning him, and say foul play isn‘t sus- Humane Society.
BY E.N. SMITH ”The days of planning a vacation one year or even Dec. 31. pected in his death — either by
Associated Press Writer
three months out really are gone.”
ATLANTA — The prospect of -- Gayle MacIntyre,
piling three children into a car LastMinuteTravel spokeswoman
loaded with Christmas presents
for a 1,000-mile road trip was isons and links to more than 50 away with little or no advance
more than Sue Delaney could global travel and leisure providers notice.”
bear. — including 12 of the world‘s Travel Industry of America
She found the solution — a largest airlines, chief executive research indicates about 10
plane fare she could live with — David Miranda said. percent of all family vacations
by logging on to Unlike several other travel sites were booked within three weeks
LastMinuteTravel.com, which on the Internet, LastMinuteTravel from the time of travel. Industry
sometimes offers deep dis- doesn‘t draw people in by promis- estimates show more than half
counts for those making last- ing the best deals. of all vacations are booked with-
minute travel arrangements. ”Sometimes you just have to be in three months.
Delaney is among the millions somewhere the next day. If you Meanwhile, the online travel
of Americans traveling over the can get a good deal, that‘s great. industry is projected to lead all
next week. AAA predicts that But if you‘ve just got to be some- Web industries in terms of rev-
44.6 million people will go at where, you‘re going to take enue over the next few years.
least 100 miles away from what‘s available,” Miranda said. Industry research groups pro-
home during the Christmas- Travel author and industry ana- ject more than $12 billion in
New Year‘s period, the majority lyst Edward Hasbrouck of San travel sales will be made online
of them by automobile. Francisco said a service such as by 2002. That number is
Travelers planning to make LastMinuteTravel has a chance expected to more than double
arrangements through the to capture that market at a time to $29 billion by 2003.
Internet have dozens of options when online travel arrangements However, the Internet isn‘t likely
available, including Travelocity, are expected to take off. to eliminate the premium paid for
Bestfares.com and Traditionally, business travel- spur-of-the-moment travel
Priceline.com, which lets cus- ers made up the vast majority of arrangements, Hasbrouck said.
tomers bid on what they‘re will- spontaneous travelers, but that Airlines in the United States
ing to pay for a ticket. is changing as a growing num- still feel they can get more
Most airlines now sell tickets on ber of families are waiting until money by raising prices the
their own Web sites and last the last minute. closer the departure gets, he
month United, Delta, Continental ”The days of planning a vaca- said. Rather than dropping
Airlines and Northwest tion one year or even three prices to fill all the empty seats,
announced plans for a joint site. months out really are gone,” the airline gambles that there
Atlanta-based LastMinuteTravel said Gayle MacIntyre, a will be at least one person who
aims to be a clearinghouse of trav- LastMinuteTravel spokes- has no other choice but to trav-
el sites and more. For about a woman. ”Often times people el at the last minute and will pay
year, it has provided price compar- find themselves wanting to get more money.