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In brief: Zoo celebrates orangutan’s 50th

This undated photo shows Duchess, a Phoenix Zoo orangutan who celebrated her 50th birthday Saturday.  (Associated Press)
This undated photo shows Duchess, a Phoenix Zoo orangutan who celebrated her 50th birthday Saturday. (Associated Press)

Phoenix – The Phoenix Zoo is used to hosting birthday parties, but this one was a little different.

Duchess the orangutan turned 50 on Saturday, and the zoo treated her to gifts, an ice cake filled with fruit and a rendition of “Happy Birthday” by hundreds of zoo visitors.

Zoo officials say Duchess is the nation’s oldest captive Bornean orangutan, and is now 10 years older than the 40-year life expectancy of orangutans in the wild.

Her keeper, Bob Keesecker, said that besides a strong devotion to food, Duchess also enjoys painting pictures on canvas and cleaning her own pen with a scrubbing brush and a bucket of water.

Saturday’s birthday party included the groundbreaking of a new $4 million orangutan exhibit.

Obama’s TSA pick withdraws name

Washington – President Barack Obama is back to square one – again – in finding a transportation security chief to shore up the nation’s defenses against terrorist threats from the air, road and rail.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Harding took himself out of the running Friday night as head of the Transportation Security Administration, another setback for Obama after his first choice withdrew in January because he faced a tough confirmation struggle in Congress.

Harding’s past as a defense contractor raised complications for his nomination.

Crane strikes 25-story building

New York – A listing crane struck the side of a 25-story building near Wall Street on Saturday, disrupting traffic and leading to the evacuations of nearby buildings.

There were no injuries reported after the crane hit a 23rd-story ledge of a building on Maiden Lane, three blocks from Wall Street, the Fire Department of New York said.

Part of the lower Manhattan building’s facade broke off and fell into the street, police Lt. John Grimpel said.

The base of the crane was on the other side of the street from the building, and the crane was leaning across the street onto the building.

New York has been blighted by crane accidents the last few years. On Tuesday, the city’s former chief crane inspector admitted taking more than $10,000 in payoffs to fake inspection and crane operator licensing exam results over nearly a decade.


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