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December 2000

Animal Instinct

Wilson Sporting Goods donates to Hellabrunn Zoo

Christmas came early this year at Munich’s Hellabrunn Zoo, where three Indian elephants — Steffi, Tina and Kathi — and a group of wild brush-eared boars could hardly believe their eyes. Wilson Sporting Goods GmbH recently gave the animals a giant box full of basketballs and footballs in the hope of easing the winter doldrums. “If they don’t manage to destroy the balls immediately, they love them,” said Dr. Doris Schwarzer, the zoo’s press director. Tina, a 42-year-old elephant matriarch, put one of the basketballs to the test by stepping on it with both of her gargantuan front feet. The specially reinforced ball survived the trauma, much to the staff’s surprise. Visitor numbers drop dramatically as temperatures plunge and the winter holidays approach, but lucky zoo-goers may catch an impromptu World Cup match between keepers and the elephants in the coming weeks. The swine are too precocious to play with, but don’t be surprised to see a chewed up “pigskin” rolling around in the pen. Firms interested in making a similar gift or a donation to the annual Christmas tombola, the zoo’s important end-of-year fundraiser, should call Dr. Schwarzer at (089) 625 08 35. <<< CWH

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