The lady says the chimp can't ante up


August 13, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Jane Goodall believes in Bigfoot, but not in poker-playing chimps. The famous primatologist, who has traveled the world to study our furry cousins, probably hasn't ventured to Elkton. If she had, she could have met Mikey the Chimp - unless he was in Vegas, trying to enter the World Series of Poker.

World Series officials refused late last month to let Mikey participate, even though a gambling Web site was willing to pony up the $10,000 entry fee as a publicity stunt.

The Jane Goodall Institute and the Humane Society of the United States issued a joint statement, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported: "Chimpanzees are wild animals who belong in the wild, not in our homes or casinos." World Series officials folded. "It would be cruel to the chimpanzee and unfair to our players," series spokesman Gary Thompson told the newspaper.

Mikey's owner, Judie Harrison of Elkton, insists that Mikey really can play. She told The Sun's Jill Rosen that she taught him how to match shapes and colors, and how to take a pointer finger and push a chip into the center of the table. He does struggle with picking up the cards, proving that opposable thumbs are overrated.

Even though he couldn't play in the tournament, Mikey had a good time in Vegas. He was especially excited to meet a Playboy bunny. "He looked at me, and he smiled and he stuck his tongue out," said Harrison. Maybe Vegas is fitter for chimps than Goodall knows.

The water's not running

The last time Hilda Mae Snoops' fountain ran dry, Maryland was treated to a soap opera, starring a water-saving, home-wrecking governor and a comptroller scorned. This time, we get This Old House. Compromised gaskets, not compromising positions. There's also worn underwater wiring. That's it. No juicy political-sexual back story.

The lighted Victorian bubbler outside the governor's mansion isn't devoid of drama, but it's the life-and-death variety instead of the daytime kind. The fountain's faults - discovered a couple of months ago when the circuit breaker kept blowing - posed a "potentially life-threatening" electrocution hazard to the first family, says General Services spokesman Dave Humphrey. So his department shut the thing down, drained it and is "in the process of designing a solution."

The fountain was the pet project of Snoops, William Donald Schaefer's official hostess and unofficial companion. She had it installed when he was governor in the late 1980s. Gov. Parris Glendening shut it off during the summer of 2001. A symbolic gesture, he called it, during a time of drought. Schaefer saw it as a gesture of another sort, and outed Glendening's affair with an aide. Scandal, divorce, a marriage, a baby and a new governor followed, and the fountain started flowing again.

How'd the current shutdown go over with WDS?

"He understands completely," said Schaefer spokesman Mike Golden. "It wasn't turned off in spite as it was the last time."

"But," Golden added, just to prove that old dramas die hard, "the reason why it's fallen into disrepair is the previous administration allowed it to happen."

A bridge no more

Think nobody understands your road rage? The folks overseeing a $2.4 billion bridge project not only feel your pain, but are turning it into a contest. The commuter with the worst tale of woe gets to blow up one of the region's most maddening bottlenecks. Really.

"Every day, you crossed the old Wilson Bridge," begins a press release from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project. "Each commute seemed longer than the last one. ... Sometimes the dashboard-pounding hassle made you think about ending it all. Now, here's your chance - to bring the end to your bridge of misery. ... The winner of the contest will personally demolish the old bridge by triggering charges that will cut a nearly half-mile stretch of the old bridge's steel girders, causing them to drop to the ground."

Entry forms are available at And step on it. Deadline is Friday.

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