ASSOCIATED PRESS: STAMFORD, Conn. – Travis the chimpanzee, a veteran of TV commercials, was the constant companion of a lonely Connecticut widow who fed him steak, lobster and ice cream. He could eat at the table, drink wine from a stemmed glass, use the toilet, and dress and bathe himself.
He brushed his teeth with a Water Pik, logged on to a computer to look at photos and channel-surfed television with the remote control.
But on Monday, the wild animal in him came out with a vengeance.
The 200-pound animal viciously mauled a friend of his owner before being shot to death by police.
Investigators are trying to figure out why , whether it was a bout of Lyme disease, a reaction to drugs, or a case of instinct taking over.
“It’s hard to say what exactly precipitated this behavior,” said Colleen McCann, a primatologist at the Bronx Zoo. “At the end of the day, they are not human and you can’t always predict their behavior and how they or any other wild animal will respond when they feel threatened.”
Travis attacked 55-year-old Charla Nash as Sandra Herold frantically stabbed her beloved pet with a butcher knife and pounded him with a shovel. Nash was in critical condition Tuesday with “life-changing, if not life-threatening,” injuries to her face and hands, Mayor Dannel Malloy said.
Police said they are looking into the possibility of criminal charges. A pet owner can be held criminally responsible if he or she knew or should have known that an animal was a danger to others.
In recordings of calls to 911 dispatchers released Tuesday, Travis’ grunts can be heard as a frantic Herold cries that her pet is “eating” Nash and must be killed. The attack lasted about 12 minutes.
“The chimp killed my friend!” says a sobbing Herold, who was hiding in her vehicle. “Send the police with a gun. With a gun!”
The dispatcher later asks, “Who’s killing your friend?”
“My chimpanzee!” she cries. “He ripped her apart! Shoot him, shoot him!” MORE
MORE MONKEY BUSINESS: This cartoon in the New York Post provoked some outrage from New York outrage-monger Al Sharpton today. The cartoon by Sean Delonas is a reference to the police shooting Monday of Travis, a celebrity chimpanzee who had gone berserk and seriously injured a woman. In a statement, Sharpton said: “The cartoon in today’s New York Post is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual reference to this when in the cartoon they have police saying after shooting a chimpanzee that ‘Now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill.’ Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?” We at the Guardian America office in Washington don’t get the humor, and I find the cartoon rather inane. MORE
CHIMP OWNER: I Did What I Had To Do