A 200-pound pet chimpanzee in Stamford, CT, was shot dead after attacking a friend of his owner on Monday. The 14-year-old chimp, Travis, had appeared in television commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola when he was younger. His owner, Sandra Herold, called her friend, Charla Nash, to help her when Travis used a key to escape the house and refused to return. When Nash arrived and exited her car, the chimp attacked her. Herold stabbed Travis with a kitchen knife, and then called 911. When police arrived and Travis attempted to enter a police cruiser, the officer inside the car shot Travis, who died shortly afterwards. Nash's injuries to her face and hands are described as "extremely critical" and "life-changing, if not life-threatening."
This was not the first time Travis had gotten into trouble. In 2003, Travis held up traffic at an intersection for two hours, and although no one was injured, police were needed to get him back into his owners' SUV.
According to The Advocate of Stamford, it is not illegal to own an exotic pet in Connecticut, but a 2004 law requires that owners obtain permits for exotic pets. Travis had been living with the Herolds since 1995, and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection appears to have granted an exemption in Travis' case. The DEP could not say whether anyone had checked up on Travis after granting the exemption. Connecticut-based Friends of Animals wants Connecticut and every state to "prohibit this kind of relationship."
My heart goes out to Nash, Herold, and Travis. I'm sure Herold never believed that such a tragedy would happen. The news articles all describe how Herold raised Travis as her child. But sadly, Travis's story is now another example of why wild animals belong in the wild.
Read more on why non-human primates should not be kept as pets.
*2/19/09 Update: Take action and support the Captive Primate Safety Act, H.R.80