I love chimps. And this time, I'm not talking about the 3 wild monkeys I live with.
I'm talking about chimps, technically not monkeys, but part of the Hominidae family that includes gorillas, orangutans and humans. These animals are smart and capable in some ways, and vicious and wild in others. 94 percent of my children's--and all humans'--DNA sequence is the same as chimpanzees'. This has always fascinated me, and I adore Jane Goodall's books and documentaries.
I love them despite the news that Travis the chimpanzee--a TV star and electric toothbrush user--attacked a friend of his devoted owner. I am sad for the victim, and I'm sad that Travis had to be shot.
It had to be done.
And most heartbreaking to me is that Travis' beloved owner, Sandra Herold, had to do it to save her friend who was under attack. Herold stabbed her pet, banged him on the head, and called the police telling them to bring a gun. Click here to watch and hear the terrifying 911 call about the chimp attack. The friend, Charla Nash, was in critical condition Tuesday with injuries to her face and hands.
Such a sad story, and it's not clear exactly what happened or if Herold was negligent. But giving a 200-pound chimp Xanax clearly sounds a little off to me.
But the chimps do need us, and not to be their owners or their companions. I've been in touch with an organization in Louisiana called Chimp Haven since they opened in 1995. Chimp Haven is the first federally funded refuge for chimpanzees in the country. Dr. Linda Brent started it and runs it. Her story is that she took care of the chimpanzees used in medical testing at a facility in Texas. After tests were completed, the animals that had given so much to us--they are used in drug trials, for various lab research and in space programs--had no where to go. She also takes in pets that have become unruly and circus discards.
Her sanctuary now houses more than 100 chimps on their 200 hundred acres. These smart, emotional animals live in safe areas where they can play and pose no danger to humans. Chimp Haven hosts public events throughout the year where locals and kids can learn more and view the animals.
Learn about about chimpanzees here. There was even a recent birth at Chimp Haven, to baby Tracy, see the video above.
What do you think about this recent chimp story? Do you think the owner was negligent? Do you blame the chimp?