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These Males Tune Out Vanna--It's a Zoo Out There!

March 27, 1987|ANN HEROLD

--Their television-watching habits would drive any network executive bananas. Showing tastes quite unlike those of their human counterparts, two 6-year-old male gorillas recently introduced to the world of video actually abandoned popular game show hostess Vanna White in the middle of a broadcast of "Wheel of Fortune" for a videotape showing something more to their liking--other gorillas. But network executives have little to fear at present--the two Milwaukee Public Zoo primates, Obsus and Quito, currently have little else to choose from. In the entertainment center recently added for their "behavioral enrichment," the gorillas get one local station, the videotape and AM and FM radio. They make their selections by touching electronic sensors inside their enclosure, with the entertainment center located safely on the other side of a glass wall. Meanwhile, the zoo is thinking of adding other channels. "The more we can do to enrich the environment, the better it is for the animals," said Bruce Beehler, assistant zoo director. "When animals are in captivity, there is always concern about how to keep them from boredom."

--At first, a judge and attorneys in a case being tried in Multnomah County in Oregon were worried that a deaf juror might slow down proceedings. But at the end of the trial, they were praising postal worker Denis Meunier, who followed the testimony through an American Sign Language interpreter. "There was absolutely no problem at all," Circuit Court Judge Richard L. Unis said. "It was not a bit distracting. . . . We were happy to have him on the jury." Meunier, the first hearing-impaired juror to serve under a 1985 law that provides interpreters at state expense, say he'll encourage others who are hearing impaired to serve on juries. "Let deaf people know deaf people can do it," Meunier signed at the close of the trial.

--Public recognition is coming to yet another postal worker, who was to receive the Presidential Medal of Honor today for saving eight people in a burning van. Mail carrier Terry Overly of Palm Bay, Fla., was returning home when he saw a multiple-car accident that was to claim eight lives. Overly rushed to a burning van, where he found he was unable to reach the releases to several of the passengers' seat belts. He found a knife to cut them loose and helped carry the crash victims to safety. "I feel like it is my job," Overly said of the rescue. "My father is a retired police officer. He would have never gone by a situation like that without helping, and he wouldn't have wanted me to."

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