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Quayle Trip: A Pair of Jaguars, an Empty Box With PM-Quayle

March 14, 1990

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) _ Vice President Dan Quayle’s visit to Paraguay brought his family two new members - a pair of jaguars named Chaco and Paloma.

But the two young ones won’t ever live in the vice president’s official Washington residence.

Quayle and his wife Marilyn were presented with the pair of 5-month-old jaguars by President Andres Rodriguez. The cats are native to Paraguay.

Quayle said he would give them to a zoo in the United States.

The animals seemed tame and cuddly as the Quayles played with them on the lawn at the home of U.S. Ambassador Timothy Towell. Quayle didn’t get scratched but noted that their claws were very sharp.

The vice president’s traveling press corps didn’t have the same luck.

A radio reporter ended up with a two-inch scratch on his wrist when one of the cubs caught a claw on his ring and drew blood trying to free itself. ---

In case anyone wondered what reading material shaped Quayle as a youth, the answer is in.

Like many kids of his generation, the 43-year-old Quayle disclosed Tuesday, he grew up on the children’s newsletter, Weekly Reader.

The subject came up after he planted a palm tree to mark his visit to Paraguay, the first such trip by an American of his rank in 32 years.

The last visit was by then-Vice President Richard Nixon, Quayle recalled.

″I was 11 then. I remember reading it in Weekly Reader - how Vice President Nixon planted a tree here. I always wanted to do that,″ Quayle told reporters. ″It’s true,″ he added, laughing.

Maybe his tree will fare better than Nixon’s.

″It’s dying,″ an embassy aide confided. ---

Quayle had some hindsight impressions a day after his Monday meeting with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega - the man conservative Republicans like Quayle have loved to hate for years.

Meeting him face to face - and talking over a 1 1/2 -hour lunch in Santiago, Chile - Quayle came away with the observation that Ortega, defeated in the Feb. 25 election, was ″very cordial, very polite.″

He added, ″He knows what he’s doing. His conversation was very direct.″

For perspective, the vice president sought the opinion of his State Department translator, Stephanie Van Reigersberg, who has been in several meetings with Ortega over the years.

″She felt there was a new sense of sincerity about Ortega,″ Quayle said. He said his talk with the Nicaraguan was ″extremely positive.″

However, Quayle quickly added, ″This is just one meeting″ and everything can’t be known from only one encounter. ---

When dignitaries travel to foreign countries, exchange of gifts with hosts is in line with protocol.

That Quayle ended up with an empty gift box in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was not meant as a slight, he was told.

He got it Tuesday when he visited a tall ship that had participated in the U.S. bicentennial regatta in New York.

The captain of the Libertad, Alberto Valerio Pico, welcomed him aboard, showed him around the 27-sail frigate and said he had learned only that day that Quayle would stop by.

Thus, he said, he had no time to get an appropriate gift. Instead he gave Quayle a gift-wrapped box.

It was empty, Pico explained, adding, ″We haven’t had time to fill it with the respect a vice president deserves.″

He said he would fill it when his ship sails to Baltimore in July.

Quayle answered, ″I promise I won’t open it till then.″

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