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Bright and Brief

September 27, 1988

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) _ It’s hard finding a good baby sitter these days, especially when the baby in question is a chimp.

A few weeks ago Joyce Wriston lost her regular sitter for 38-pound Herbie, so she took out newspaper ads seeking a new one.

More than 75 people responded, but Wriston said choosing the right sitter was harder than it sounds. Herbie was in on the selection process.

″He ... ushered one (prospect) right out the front door,″ she said. ″It was a woman who I thought would be really good with him, but he just didn’t accept her. Herbie walked her to the door and gave her a little push as she went out.″

Wriston finally picked Indy Snyder, of Soak Creek, who said she answered the ad because she loves animals.

Snyder said her introduction to Herbie was a bit unsettling. ″I had never seen a chimp in my life. I can’t explain how I felt when I saw him come romping through the hallway,″ she said.

″We’ve had to spend some time getting to know each other. It’s easier for him to get to know you than the other way around. He seems to know exactly what you say to him.″

Herbie’s not your average chimp, of course. He wears clothes and shoes, eats at the table, watches TV and plays with toys. He also showers, dresses himself and brushes his teeth. He has developed his own brand of sign language for communicating.

Snyder’s responsibilities include preparing Herbie’s food and seeing that he follows basic house rules.

″Being with Herbie is more confining than caring for a child,″ she said. ″You can’t send him out in the yard to play by himself. You have to be right with him all the time.″


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Health guru Richard Simmons and 25 aerobics instructors will teach Soviets how to take off the pounds that borsch and blintzes have put on.

Simmons and the instructors are making the Oct. 5 trip in response to a Soviet request to show its inhabitants how to keep fit.

″I think that this is a good, friendly gesture on the Russians’ part,″ said Priscilla Pope, one of three Charleston instructors chosen for the 11-day trip, which will also include Chinese and Australian instructors. ″Maybe we can be friendlier and do more things like this in the future.″

ABC will film the trip, whose highlight will be a massive aerobics demonstration in Moscow’s Gorky Park, for a television special.

″I’m not really nervous,″ Pope said. ″But I wonder what their aerobics will be like. Their teachers are so advanced aerobically.

″But I can’t imagine the average Russian citizen belonging to a health club.″

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