when a politician follows through

even when he loses, he still gave gorillas to the people of new orleans.


At September 10, 2004 at 1:26 AM, Blogger franklin said...

what is this one about??

At November 19, 2004 at 2:52 PM, Blogger vige said...

Rodney Fertel.

While he was living in New Orleans, he ran for mayor in 1969, 1973, 1977, and 1982. In his first campaign, he announced his candidacy in a gorilla suit. Fertel promised the people of New Orleans that he would buy two baby gorillas for the Audubon Zoo, which was gorilla-less at the time. Even though he lost the election -- he received only 308 votes -- he kept his promise. Fertel went to Africa, hired hunters, and delivered the gorillas to the zoo in November 1970. Fertel wanted to name the babies Red Beans and Rice. He explained, "They'll become more and more attached to the people of New Orleans, and vice versa."

However, things did not go as smoothly as planned. Fertel's gorillas arrived at the zoo during a time of great change. If you remember, the old zoo was really an animal prison, nothing like the beautiful natural facility the animals enjoy today -- more like a creature country club.

Fertel would appear without notice at least once a week to make sure his "babies" were being cared for properly. So that they would recognize him, he always wore the same khaki pants and safari hat. And to keep the gorillas amused, he bought them a television set, but it kept breaking. Even though the zoo superintendent had it fixed six times, Fertel publicly demanded an investigation of the zoo and its officials. I'm afraid Fertel was not popular with the zookeepers because he complained a lot, mostly about how the zoo was being run and the fact that visitors frequently threw stuff into the gorilla's cages.

Fertel, real estate dealer, world traveler, and former husband of Ruth Fertel, original owner of Ruth's Chris Steak House, ran again for mayor in 1973 and got more than 4,000 votes as he supported the idea of a state lottery and bans on smoking in public places. After losing the third election he began his vagabond lifestyle; and when the fourth election found "Gorilla Man" defeated again, he apparently decided that politics was not for him.

About eight years ago, when Fertel was 66, he sent a postcard from Switzerland to a columnist at the Times-Picayune asking about the gorillas who had been renamed Molly and Scotty and were not in New Orleans at all. In his note, Fertel asked, "How did the young gorillas I gave to the people of New Orleans get away from them? Gorilla-napped! How? Why was this done?"

Fertel was unaware that the gorillas had been separated. The zoo had planned to keep them for breeding purposes, but they were incompatible. So Scotty was shipped off in 1982 to the zoo in Fresno, Calif. and then to Fort Worth, Texas, and lastly to Knoxville, Tenn. -- all in the name of producing more gorillas. Nine years later, Molly went to Atlanta. -->


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