The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Can a Chimpanzee play Poker?

Wow, I was shocked to read this this morning! This is my ex-Chimpanzee, Mikey, who now lives at the Little Rock Zoo with his half brother, Louie and other Chimpanzees. I was asked many times how did I teach Mikey to play poker. I never made that known until now. I started out by buying a deck of match cards. I taught Mikey how to pick one up and find the other one that matches and handing them to me. He would get a small goodie for each one he got correct. I then made cards with color on them and we did the same procedure with the color. Next came the suits. Then we put everything he had learned together and applied that to the game of poker. I then taught him to properly pick up his cards and place them face down and make a bet with the key word of "push". I always allowed him to push in as many chips as he wanted to.

Mikey and I traveled all over the US with Mikey playing some of the best poker players. He won most of the time, without the other player allowing him too. We attended a Poker conference in Vegas whereas Mikey was available to play a hand of poker with anyone that wanted too. Again, he beat just about everyone. Mikey enjoyed the attention, meeting new people, and playing with the cards. Mikey did a big game with a well known Poker player and previous winner which they taped. During this taping the poker player was a bit vocally abusive for the cameras only. Mikey was hooked to the chair and I was under the table to keep Mikey from getting too excited with the other player. When I would see his little butt come up off of the chair I would reach up and either give a little tug on his collar which was around his waist or hand him a little treat to keep him focused.

I worked with Mikey on cognitive things from the day I brought him home at about 10 months old, so I fully understand the intelligent level, the cognitive skills, and the emotions that a Chimpanzee has. Mikey was with me for approx 6 years. Then I as some say "saw the light" and knew that Mikey and Louie didn't belong with me, they belonged with a family of their own. I made the most difficult decision of my life, I placed them both at the Little Rock Zoo. (You can watch that video at the top of this blog on a link).

Now I spend hours a day trying to spend the education and awareness that I learned while raising Mikey and Louie. Behind the scenes I still write e-mails to people asking if they can take this Primate or that Primate. I also donate goods and money to the sanctuaries I feel are on the up and up.

I made a horrible mistake by feeding into the Chimpanzee Pet trade, although I don't regret the wonderful experiences that I had, the teaching I was able to do, and the loving bond that we had. I was uneducated at the time. The Internet back then wasn't filled with information on them like it is now. Since a small girl I always just wanted to work with Chimpanzees, to find out their intelligence level, what they could learn and what they could teach me. I suppose that need had never gone away. My advice to others, is that if you want to work with Chimpanzees, go to college, get a degree and then work with them in a place where they still have a family of Chimps.

A few years back, an online poker site got the idea to enter a chimp at the World Series of Poker. His name was Mikey. We have no idea how Mikey would have performed as organizers ultimately denied him registration.

“He will not be registered, nor will he play,” said Gary Thompson, spokesman for the World Series of Poker at that time. “We are not letting any chimpanzees in. It would be cruel to the chimpanzee and unfair to our players.”

Cruel, we doubt it, unfair to other players, perhaps.
A recent study found that chimpanzees can win at poker.

Why chimps win at poker?

“Chimpanzees apparently can figure out what others are thinking, a mental ability seen nowhere else in the animal kingdom so far except for in humans, scientists find,” reports. “In recent years, research has revealed just how much chimpanzees – humanity’s closest living relatives – have in common with us. They can hunt with spears, play with improvised dolls and mourn their dead. Past research also showed that chimps can figure out what others know. … It was an open question as to whether chimps’ mental capabilities might go beyond knowing what others might know to what others might think. Now scientists find they might possess this advanced mental ability.” They detailed their findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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