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In Brief

Saturday, December 18, 2004; Page B03


Armed Teen Robs Boy on Metro

A teenage robber drew a handgun on a Metro Blue Line train Thursday and demanded a coat and a backpack from another young rider before discharging the gun and fleeing at the Benning Road station, police said yesterday.

The robbery took place shortly after 10 a.m., as Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson was briefing the Metro board about a surge in robberies. Transit police said an 18-year-old approached a 16-year-old boy inside a nearly empty Blue Line train that was traveling between Stadium-Armory and Potomac Avenue stations.

_____About the National Zoo_____
Zoo Makes Positive Strides, Report Finds (The Washington Post, Jan 19, 2005)
Zoo Found Deficient in Monkey's Death (The Washington Post, Jan 8, 2005)
Zoo Director Search Begins Anew (The Washington Post, Dec 17, 2004)
More About the Zoo
Giant Pandas Special Report

The suspect displayed a handgun and demanded the younger boy's North Face jacket and backpack, police said. As the younger boy complied, the gun went off and a bullet hit an electronic compartment on the train, Hanson said. No one was injured. The robber fled at Benning Road station, Hanson said. There were two other passengers on the train at the time of the robbery, she said.

Robberies and pickpocketing are on the rise on trains and buses and in parking lots and stations. In November, Metro passengers reported 33 robberies. That compares with 17 robberies in November 2003.

Zoo Friends Seek Funds for Otter Exhibit

Friends of the National Zoo, the nonprofit support organization for the National Zoo, has launched an effort to raise more than $2 million to open a new exhibit for Asian small-clawed otters.

The exhibit would be part of the zoo's Asia Trail opening in 2006 and featuring the zoo's giant pandas, sloth bears and other Asian animals. It would include three pairs of the otters, the smallest of 13 otter species worldwide, which the zoo eventually hopes to breed. Small-clawed otters are considered threatened because of hunting and habitat destruction.

The zoo now has one pair of the otters in its Small Mammal House. Those who want to contribute to the new exhibit can do so online at the FONZ Web site, www.fonz.org, or by contacting FONZ at 202-673-4613.

337 Teachers Gain Board Certification

The Arlington-based National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has announced that 337 teachers in the District, Maryland and Virginia have earned national board certification, a recognition of teaching ability that brings extra pay in some districts.

The board's announcement said 182 Virginia teachers, 153 Maryland teachers and two D.C. teachers passed the battery of tests, including computerized exams and reviews of their taped lessons. The tests take one to three years to complete, and only about 40 percent of those who take them pass.

Nationally, 8,056 teachers earned the honor this year, for a total of 40,200. The number of certificates awarded in Virginia now totals 726. The total in Maryland is 497, and in the District 11.

More People Commuting Longer

A new survey says the trip to work is getting longer for more people in the Washington region.

A survey released today by the Transportation Planning Board finds the average one-way commute is now 16 1/2 miles, a mile farther than the last survey three years ago.

Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed said their commutes are more difficult than a year ago because they travel longer distances between home and office as well as because of more congestion.

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