Pigskin-picking camel from New Jersey says Giants will be super

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 Patriots.

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 week.

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 season percentage.

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 this reporter, 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, Bergmann said.

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.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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