Hogle Zoo orangutans pick Saints to win Super Bowl

Published: Friday, Feb. 5 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

Elijah, an orangutan at Hogle Zoo, hits at one of two papier-m?he footballs bearing the logos of the Saints and Colts during a Super Bowl prediction event at the zoo.

T.j. Kirkpatrick, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Who will win Super Bowl No. 44 Sunday — the New Orleans Saints or the Indianapolis Colts?

If the orangutans are right, it will be the Saints.

In the second annual tradition, the Hogle Zoo's Bornean orangutans predicted the Super Bowl winner Thursday morning.

Talukan, the zoo's oldest male orangutan at 24, had little trouble making his pick. With the media and a couple of dozen patrons watching, he walked over to the two papier-mache helmets that zookeepers had placed at the front of his cage and chose an oversized Saints helmet. It was painted bright gold, with some black — the team's colors. He then pushed both helmets around briefly but soon ignored them altogether.

A family of orangutans made the same decision. Two papier-mache footballs were placed at the front of their cage. All four — Elijah, another male and the two females, Eve and Acara — all instantly went for the large Saints football.

It took the primates several minutes to even touch the Colts ball. Eventually, they knocked both papier-mache creations around and all but destroyed them.

"This year, everyone's a Saints fan," Holly Braithwaite, zoo spokeswoman, said. "Who needs Bud Bowl or Lingerie Bowl when they've got Orangutan Bowl? It's not the most accurate way of predicting a Super Bowl winner, but it sure is fun."

Giving the primates these special decorations also fits nicely into the zoo's enrichment program for its animals.

Last year, the orangutans were split evenly on their choices for the Super Bowl.

The orangutans are perhaps the zoo's most intelligent animals. Hence, the reason they were used.

Some other zoos, like Portland's Oregon Zoo, also use orangutans to predict a winner in the Super Bowl each year.

For more information on Hogle Zoo, go to www.hoglezoo.org

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