Animal “betting debts”: Gottschalk and Elstner with children in the zoo

Animal «betting debts»
Gottschalk and Elstner with children in the zoo

Thomas Gottschalk

Thomas Gottschalk feeds the coati Thommy, whose godfather he is. Photo: Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

There have been worse “betting debts” that had to be redeemed: entertainer Thomas Gottschalk and his mentor Frank Elstner invite schoolchildren to the Karlsruhe Zoo. The animals play the main role.

“Ape gang, ape gang, ape gang,” scream the children in the Karlsruhe Zoo. Who do you mean by that? The two TV presenters Frank Elstner and Thomas Gottschalk probably not. This Tuesday, they took extra time for four school classes from the Karlsruhe area and one from Wörth in Rhineland-Palatinate to win a lost bet from the recent broadcast of “Wetten, dass..?” redeem. “It has been a botox-free appointment for a long time,” says Gottschalk with a smile in view of the many very young visitors.

The entertainers can live with the fact that the students are more interested in the animal inhabitants than in the TV celebrities. “That’s the way it has to be,” says Gottschalk. He sometimes has to explain to the children who he is. “The ten-year-olds could still dimly remember us.”

It is unlikely that coati Thommy could still remember Thomas Gottschalk on Tuesday. In October 2020, the celebrity became an honorary godfather for the animal, on Tuesday he feeds the coati and other animals. Gottschalk emphasizes that he is a proud godfather.

Meeting the kids is really fun

Gottschalk and Elstner agree: there have been worse betting debts in the decades-long history of “Wetten, dass ..?” – even if Gottschalk prefers to redeem his gambling debts right on his doorstep. “Frank only drove me 50 kilometers through the area. But if it helps the animal kingdom, I’ll be happy to do it,” says Gottschalk. He also owes a lot to Elstner and can therefore not refuse any request. “I’m even willing to find myself stuffed here in the Karlsruhe Zoo one day,” says the 72-year-old. The two celebrities like meeting the children: “It’s a great gambling debt. Redeeming is fun. The children have prepared fantastically.”

Frank Elstner in particular is closely associated with the Karlsruhe Zoo. The 80-year-old is good friends with zoo director Matthias Reinschmidt. Both selected the five school classes for the visit. According to the city of Karlsruhe, “countless” applied. The selection was not easy for Elstner. “We certainly didn’t invite many who deserved it.”

Elstner is also an ambassador for the zoo’s species protection project. In 2015, he adopted a Bennett kangaroo named Frank. But that died last year. He has been the godfather of another kangaroo since Monday, and the zoo has a “new Frank”, as director Matthias Reinschmidt puts it.