LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- The New York Giants have what it
takes to get them over the hump in next week's Super Bowl.
At least, that's according to a pigskin-picking camel named
Princess who has chosen Big Blue to triumph over the New England
Her picks are nothing to spit at: Princess, who once belonged to
heiress Doris Duke, went 11-6 during the regular season and is
8-out-of-10 in the playoffs this year. Her prowess is equal to that
of some of the most famous forecasters.
"I can't explain it, but her predictions, more often than not,
are right on the money," said John Bergmann, general manager of
Popcorn Park Zoo, the southern New Jersey facility for elderly,
abused or unwanted animals where Princess has lived since 2004.
"I'm hoping she's right this time because I'm a Giants fan."
Princess' prognostication skills flow from her love of graham
crackers. Bergmann will choose a game at random during the regular
season, place a cracker in each hand, and use a permanent marker to
scrawl the name of a competing team on each hand.
Whichever hand Princess nibbles from is her "pick" for that
Her regular season mark of 11-6 comes out to a .647 winning
percentage. (Since she never quite got the hang of points spreads,
Princess picks the games straight-up, just choosing the winner.)
By comparison, Dave Goldberg, the Associated Press football
writer who makes NFL picks each weekend, posted a .664 regular
ESPN's Ron Jaworski, the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback,
had a .688 mark, but Princess topped Mike Golic, another former
Eagle on ESPN, who came in at .584.
And in the interest of full disclosure, the camel also topped Wayne Parry (author of this story), whose score in a New Jersey Statehouse football pool
came in at .640.
Princess started out picking games for a local radio station in
the 2006 season. But when the station didn't bring her back for
2007, Bergmann kept the tradition alive.
It's the least he could do for an animal that was once the
personal pet of heiress Doris Duke, the only child of tobacco and
electric energy tycoon James Buchanan Duke.
Doria Duke raised Princess and her sister Babe from youngsters,
The pair had their own barn and were taken on summer vacation to
Duke's Rhode Island estate, he added. If weather became inclement,
they were put up in the solarium, he said.
After Duke's death in 1993, the camels stayed on her estate in
Hillsborough. Babe died several years ago, leaving just Princess.
When Princess' caretaker was about to retire, the estate offered
Princess to Popcorn Park Zoo, which took her in.
Her picks haven't always been perfect, though.
"She actually picked the Giants a lot when they were losing,
including opening day against Dallas," Bergmann said, referring to
a 45-35 loss.
But take heart, Giants fans: Princess knows a Manning-led
champion when she sees one. She chose Peyton Manning and the
Indianapolis Colts to win last year's Super Bowl.