200-Pound Chimp Goes Berserk, Mauls Woman

 

 
 
 

| Wednesday, February 18, 2009


STAMFORD, Conn. -- An out-of-control, 200-pound pet chimpanzee apparently went berserk and mauled a woman in Connecticut, leaving her in critical condition.

The owner of the former TV star chimp Travis stabbed him multiple times, but to no avail. Police were called to the scene and say they had no choice but to shoot and kill the pet-gone-wild.

The bizarre scene unfolded in Stamford, when Travis suddenly attacked and tore up the face of 55-year-old Charla Nash, who was visiting his owner Sandra Herold Monday night.

Nash was taken to the hospital with severe wounds and listed in critical condition.

"He bit both of her hands off and the cop told me he just kept eating her. It's terrible," Lynne Mecca, a friend of the victim, told CBS News.

Police Lt. Richard Conklin said the victim suffered "a tremendous loss of blood" from serious facial injuries.

Herold and two officers also were hurt, though authorities said the extent of their wounds was not immediately known.

The 15-year-old chimp once starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola.

Police said they had no idea why Travis attacked Nash as she got out of her car to visit Herold. There was speculation that it may have been because she had recently changed her hairstyle and the animal could have thought she was an intruder.

Conklin said Herold wrestled with the chimp, then ran inside to call 911.

"She retrieved a large butcher knife and stabbed her longtime pet numerous times in an effort to save her friend, who was really being brutally attacked," Conklin said.

Travis ran away and started roaming on Herold's property as police arrived. Officers set up security so that medics could reach the critically injured woman lying on the ground, Conklin said.

Police say they shot Travis after he tried to get into one of their cruisers.

"He's been raised almost like a child by this family," Conklin said Monday. "He rides in a car every day, he opens doors, he's a very unique animal in that aspect. We have no indication of what provoked this behavior at all."

Conklin said the chimp has been sick with Lyme disease, so the drugs might have made him anxious.

"Maybe from the medications he was out of sorts," he said. "We really don't know."

Police have dealt with him in the past, including an incident in 2003 when he escaped from his owners' vehicle in downtown Stamford for two hours.

Officers used cookies, macadamia treats and ice cream in an attempt to lure him, but subdued him only after he became too tired to resist.

At the time of the 2003 incident, police said the Herolds told them the chimpanzee was toilet trained, dressed himself, took his own bath, ate at the table and drank wine from a stemmed glass.

He also brushed his teeth using a Water Pik, logged onto the computer to look at pictures, and watched television using the remote control.




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