A pet chimp seriously injured Carla Nash of Stamford, Connecticut when she went to a friend’s home to help her with the animal. The chimp, Travis, had managed to get out of the house by unlocking the door with a key. The 200 pound primate attacked Nash without provocation, and the owner, Sandra Herold, was unable to stop the brutal attack until she was forced to stab the animal with a butchers knife. Travis went on to attack a police cruiser when it arrived on the scene, and officers were forced to shoot the chimp gone wild when they were unable to subdue it by other means. Travis died shortly thereafter when he had retreated to the comfort of his playroom, according to a CNN report. Travis had a prior record of public disturbance when he escaped from his owners car and “wreaked havoc” in 2003, according to CNN.
The Village Voice reports that the chimpanzee had appeared in commercials for Coca Cola and Old Navy since the 2003 incident and he had developed a taste for wine and surfing the internet. He had also appeared on Maury Povich’s show and a television pilot, according to Stamford’s The Advocate. The Post Chronicle reports that Sandra Herold, the 70 year old owner of the animal, was hospitalized along with Nash after suffering a mild heart attack. The Times Online reports that she had raised Travis as one would raise a child. He was fifteen years old at the time of his death.
The tragic incident has sparked comments at many news sites regarding the dangers of owning exotic animals, which many believe to be inappropriate. Chimpanzee’s are amongst the more intelligent primates with demonstrations of empathy, laughter, mourning, and, according to James Herrod’s documented examples, a wide variety of spiritual behavior. However, chimps are very complex primates with a variety of emotions and motivations, and their powerful strength makes for a dangerous situation if they loose their temper.
Although the nature of this incident means that the news story is destined for “news of the weird” like sites, it appears that Nash, the woman attacked by the animal, sustained serious injuries to her face and body. Nash was not the owner of Travis, just a friend who was trying to help, and our sympathies go out to her following this bizarre and tragic event. CNN International reports that the injuries Nash suffered are life threatening.