By Jan Hefler The Philadelphia Inquirer
FORKED RIVER, N.J. — So if you really want to know who is going to win Super Bowl XLVIII, you may want to check in with Chaco the Screaming Hairy Armadillo or Fred the Psychic Bunny, because Princess the Camel is no more.
Princess, who accurately predicted six of the last seven Super Bowl champs, died Jan. 14 at Popcorn Park Zoo in this Pinelands community near Barnegat Bay.
Days before the big game, Princess would let humans in on her secret by selecting one of two graham crackers offered to her by the zoo manager, whose palms were marked with the names of the teams. The first one slurped was the winner.
“It was very scientific,” said John Bergmann, the zoo’s general manager, who performed the trick with Princess in recent years. Overall, between 2006 and 2014, Princess was right 120 times out of about 170 NFL football games, including the championships, he said.
Princess suffered from arthritis and other ailments, and had to be euthanized because she could no longer stand, Bergmann said. She was 27, up in years for a camel.
A memorial service is planned for Super Bowl Sunday at Layton’s Home for Funerals in Forked River. Vinnie Layton said there would be eulogies and a slide show depicting Princess’ life and predictions. “People will come in and reminisce about the camel and I’m sure it will be standing room only,” he said. “This is a small town and there’s a lot of animal lovers here.”
In 2001, Layton held a memorial service for Sonny the Elephant, another popular zoo animal in the town, after he died.
Princess, who was cremated, was brought to the zoo after the death of her previous owner, the tobacco heiress Doris Duke, in 1993.
Princess’ predictions began as part of a local radio contest, to boost ratings. “It clicked,” said Bergmann. The only time she was wrong about the Super Bowl champs was in 2010, when the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17. It wasn’t her fault, he said, intimating there might have been a bad call during the game.
Several other zoo and farm animals have also jumped into the high-stakes football betting scene, according to SportsGrid.com. The Maryland Zoo Chimps choose the winner by ripping up a team banner, while Ozzy the Grizzly Bear chooses a team-labeled banana pie.
Princess didn’t live long enough to make her prediction for this year.
&Copy;2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at www.philly.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services