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Animals Take on New Roles

Chimps Go for Ravens, 49ers eat crow

The wise guys and gals of the world of sports gave Super Bowl XLVII to the San Francisco 49ers. The chimpanzee tribe of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, however, got it right.
    On Purple Friday, February 1, the zoo’s 11 chimps emerged from their night quarters into a dayroom decked out with footballs and two team banners: a red one for the 49ers and a purple one for the Ravens.
    Zookeepers had set the stage for prognostication.
    “They took their time selecting a banner, but in the end they grabbed the Ravens banner, gave it a rip and the prediction was sealed,” writes zoo human Jane Ballentine.
    Were the chimps truly soothsaying? Not only Baltimore and all of Maryland but also their own zoo mates were purple with expectation. The Maryland Zoo is also home to the raven brothers Rise and Conquer, the official mascots of the Baltimore Ravens.
    Rise and Conquer, who appear at each home game, had more than a casual stake in the outcome.
    “In the highly unlikely event that Baltimore wins,” promised Tanya Peterson, executive director and president of the San Francisco Zoological Society, the zoo’s Black Rhino exhibit — whose inhabitant is named after Alex Boone, the 49ers’ offensive tackle — would be renamed for the Ravens.
    “We’ll even have Boone’s enrichment look like crow, I mean, raven,” she said, “because if the 49ers lose, we are all eating crow here!”