Polar Bears Leave Tropics More than a year ago, we wrote about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' effort to liberate polar bears from the Suarez Bros. Circus, based in Puerto Rico. This week, the last six bears at the circus were seized by officials and sent to zoos in colder climes. According to PETA, the animals lived in cramped, hot and humid conditions. "They're such zombies that strange people can come in and approach them and they show no interest," said PETA spokeswoman Debbie Leahy.
One bear, named Alaska, was seized last March after the circus presented the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with fraudulent documentation of her origins. Alaska now lives at the Baltimore Zoo and is thriving in the company of a male polar bear named Magnet.
Celebrities including Sarah McLachlan, Martin Sheen, Pamela Anderson, Ewan McGregor and star Telemundo reporter Maria Celeste Arraras had lent their names to the bears' cause. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," said Arraras, who presented to the Puerto Rican Congress legislation to ban circuses with animals from entering the island. "To me it is appalling that the situation had to get this point. . . . These animals were in a torture chamber for a year and a half in Puerto Rico."
Jordan's Smokin' Local guy's guy Michael Jordan normally keeps his own company off the court. But Thursday he joined other Washingtonian men for an evening of black tie and cigars: the annual Fight Night fundraiser at the Washington Hilton. After Fight Night, men traditionally join their girlfriends and spouses, who have been at the companion Knock-Out Abuse Against Women Dinner, for an after-party. This year the dinner and after-party were at the Ritz-Carlton. Jordan, whose wife lives in Chicago, stopped by for a drink at the Ritz bar (after all, he lives upstairs) and was coaxed down to mingle with the women. We hear the crowd turned from featured celebrity Bo Derek to swarm Jordan -- if Bo's a 10, Michael must be an 11.
Keeping the AIDS Fight Alive Dave Matthews played at an AIDS awareness concert in Seattle on Thursday, saying: "I was a kid in the '80s. I remember this fear that people had. You couldn't stop it. It seemed to be this invisible murderer. The people who are 15 to 25 now were very small or didn't exist when that happened."
Singer Michelle Branch, who is 19, confirmed his suspicions: "Personally, it's always one of those things: You say, 'That doesn't affect me' or 'That's over in Africa' or 'That was something in my parents' generation.' "
The MTV "Staying Alive" concert will air in combination with a concert in South Africa starring Alicia Keys and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day.
A Local Ladle of 'Soup' A story by Fairfax writer Whitney Von Lake Hopler is included in the new "Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas Treasury for Kids." Hopler, who will sign copies next Saturday at the Fair Oaks Mall Waldenbooks, wrote about her cat, Linda, who ran away and returned on Christmas Eve. Hopler, who submitted her story back in '97, only gets a flat $300 fee for her contribution to the "Chicken Soup" empire. "I'm just very excited. They have such a large reach," said Hopler, who writes when not taking care of 4-year-old daughter Honor and husband Russ.
End Notes Spotted at last night's Wizards win over the Lakers at MCI Center: Magic Johnson, Mike Tyson, the Redskins' LaVar Arrington and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis . . . Members of the political-media establishment who are not tuckered out from the week's election excitement will converge on the American City Diner in Northwest Washington on Sunday night to help Chris Matthews, the indefatigable MSNBC personality, celebrate his latest book, "American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions" . . . White House press secretary Ari Fleischer will marry Rebecca Davis today in Indiana. "I hope you all have sent your gifts to him," President Bush said at Thursday's news conference. "Ari, I did what you asked me to do" . . . Ralph Nader has asked Rep. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) to apologize to Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), whose seat he won Tuesday after a vitriolic campaign. Nader wrote: "It is not reasonable for a political candidate, not to mention one who chose to avoid the draft, to slander a senator who instead chose to volunteer for service in Vietnam, where he was severely wounded."
-- Compiled by Barbara E. Martinez
from staff and wire reports