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RIP Grandpa, the True King of Staten Island

So long, Grandpa, and other links to start your day.

9:02 AM EST on February 12, 2024

It's a dark day on Staten Island.

No, not because Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce, and the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl, just step one in Joe Biden's reelection psy-op. But instead because a beloved monkey is no longer with us—Grandpa, the just-shy of 52-years-old spider monkey who lived at the Staten Island Zoo, passed away recently, the zoo announced on Instagram.  

Grandpa, whose mates died in 2020, was believed to be one of the older spider monkeys in captivity, and staff there celebrated his longevity lately with birthday parties each year, broadcast on Instagram during the pandemic, and celebrated with well-wishers once the zoo reopened.

"Playful, inquisitive, and lovable, Grandpa would frequently be front and center by the glass of his exhibit to observe and engage with visitors," the zoo's Instagram obituary read. And while Grandpa was well known for his relaxed lounging on a tree branch, grizzled features, and call-and-response cries, Grandpa also had another side to him: terrible predictions. 

In 2010, the Staten Island Zoo began using Grandpa to help predict the winners of U.S. Open tennis matches by placing two balls in front of him, each with the name of competing players. After a hot start of correctly predicting four matches, Grandpa went cold, picking Rafael Nadal to lose in the quarterfinals (fool!), and flubbing an early-season football pick to boot (by this point, Grandpa was clearly addicted to gambling). 

No longer just sticking to sports, Grandpa tried his hand at political predictions. In 2012, ahead of the New Hampshire Republican primaries, Grandpa picked the Newt Gingrich banana when it was placed in front of him, alongside the other candidate bananas. He whiffed it: Gingrich came in a distant fifth. 

It appeared after that disastrous pick, Grandpa soon exited the predictions game, leaving it for other, possibly younger, zoo animals (In a possible tribute to Grandpa, Polly, the zoo's pig, absolutely blew her Super Bowl prediction yesterday). Retired from predictions, Grandpa continued to charm zoo visitors and his keepers—one of whom got a cool Grandpa tattoo on her arm. You can listen to a very sweet WNYC story about Grandpa here. We hope Grandpa and Staten Island Chuck are somewhere together, talking about the good old days. A memorial to Grandpa will be announced in the coming weeks.

Here he is playing with a snowman a few weeks ago. We'll miss you, Grandpa!

Some links not about monkeys, much to our chagrin:

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