I had a friend in high school who told tales of growing up alongside a pet chimpanzee--taking spoons to a half gallon of ice cream together, pushing each other on a swing. Cute, huh? You might not think so if you heard what happened in Stamford, Connecticut, yesterday...or in Havilah, California, in 2005.
Sandra Herold, 70, had raised "Travis," a male chimpanzee, almost as one of her own children. He appeared in TV commercials, rode in the towtruck operated by the family, and playfully held up traffic during an escape in 2003. He bathed and dressed himself, brushed his own teeth, drank wine and ate steak and lobster, and channel-surfed the television. But at the age of 14, Travis weighed 200 lbs. "Despite their appearances, chimpanzees are known to possess astonishing power, with the average adult male having four to five times the upper-body strength of an adult human. As pets, they can be extremely difficult. They typically act aggressively toward their owners when they reach adulthood, and once reared by humans, they cannot be re-introduced into the wild because other chimpanzees will reject them, experts say." When Travis became agitated on Monday and let himself out of the house, Herold called friend Charla Nash, 55, for help. As soon as Nash got out of her car, Travis viciously attacked her, although he had known her for years. After unsuccessfully attempting to stop the chimp's attack by hitting him with a shovel and stabbing him repeatedly with a butcher knife, Herold called 911. While paramedics treated Nash, Travis went after one of the police officers in the seat of his patrol car. The traumatized officer used deadly force, and a trail of blood led to Travis, who had returned to his cage in the house to die. Nash remains listed in “extremely critical” condition with multiple broken bones, disfigured hands, and much of her face torn away.