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Grandpa the 'psychic' monkey's toughest challenge yet will be to predict GOP winner i
07-01-2012, 06:08 AM
Post: #1
Grandpa the 'psychic' monkey's toughest challenge yet will be to predict GOP winner i

Grandpa, the wise, old spider monkey who calls the Staten Island Zoo home, views life through Yoda-like eyes — and his fans say that eerily accurate is the future he sees.

His keepers have been testing his supposedly psychic powers by having him pick the winners of tennis matches and pigskin tilts. But the Daily News is giving Grandpa his toughest challenge yet — choosing which candidate in the crowded GOP field will claim victory in the New Hampshire primary.

On Monday, the day before the showdown in the Granite State, The News will have Grandpa pick a banana from a bunch. Each banana will have written on it the name of a GOP candidate — and pity all who are not the chosen banana.

In the past, Grandpa has shown himself to be an ace at beating odds in sporting matches that break down to a simple flip of a coin, like his triumph in picking the Green Bay Packers to win the Super Bowl last year.

But The News’ test will confront the zoo’s “elder statesman” with a race that has proven to be chaotic and a cast of characters whose fates have changed wildly. Even though former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is running well ahead of the pack in New Hampshire, where he owns a summer home, the zoo’s head curator says it is impossible for mere mortals to know how Grandpa will pick ’em.

“He could sit there and not do anything for five minutes,” Peter Laline said, hypothesizing that Grandpa could prove to be as fickle or as undecided as many in the deeply divided Republican electorate.

“You can never tell with animals,” he said. “They never do exactly what you think they’re going to do.”

Grandpa could embrace the candidacy of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who placed second in a poll in New Hampshire released Thursday. Or, like many voters in this week’s Iowa caucuses, he could be wooed by former senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum and his shoe-leather-intensive, pickup-truck driven campaign.

For now, only the monkey knows how it all will work out — but don’t bet against him: Grandpa’s been right more often than not.

His prowess as a psychic first came to light in 2010, when he successfully predicted the outcome of six out of nine matches during the U.S. Open Tennis Championship.

Laline would choose a featured match and give Grandpa two tennis balls, one for each contestant.

“I thought it was kind of comical, a joke — until he started nailing the winners,” Laline recalled of Grandpa’s hot serve that year.

His fame only grew with his Super Bowl prediction, and believers say the monkey’s magic stems from his advanced age.

Grandpa, a Black-handed Spider Monkey, turns 40 this year, and his handlers believe he may be the oldest living member of his species. Black-handed Spider Monkeys, critically endangered worldwide, usually live into their teens in the wild, and survive about 30 years in captivity.

Grandpa seems unaffected by the passing of time. “He’s got a lot of fire in him,” Laline said. “He’s got a lot of pizzazz.”

The psychic simian took up residence at the Staten Island Zoo in 1974, a couple of years before Laline was born.

“It’s a really humbling experience to now be responsible for his care,” Laline said. “He’s our elder statesman.”

But can he pick the correct statesman? Check back next week.

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