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Those who love their pets tend to enjoy all animals. Our animal owners are no different. Check in on News-Herald staffers Robin Palmer and Cheryl Sadler as they share their own animal tales and announce upcoming events in Lake and Geauga counties.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Few words more accurate than 'tragic'

A tragic case out of Connecticut dramatically proves the danger of owning adult chimpanzees, our closest primate relative and a fascinating member of the animal kingdom, as pets.

The photo I've included is six years old now, but shows the tremendous size of Travis -- the 14-year-old, 200-pound chimpanzee police shot and killed Monday after he spent about 12 minutes ferociously attacking his owner's longtime friend.

The animal had spent a lifetime eating at the table, using the toilet, brushing his own teeth, surfing the Internet and sometimes drinking wine from a stemmed glass, among other human past times. His owner Sandra Herold, also pictured above, raised him as her child.

But wild behavior had given Herold cause for concern Monday. She gave him some tea laced with the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, then called her friend, 55-year-old Charla Nash, to help control him.

What followed inflicted "life-changing, if not life-threatening" injuries to Nash's face and hands, reports claim. A news report featuring graphic audio from Herold's 911 call, as well as an analysis piece by the Associated Press, can be found here. Police shot Travis when he charged them, then cornered an officer inside his cruiser.

Seemingly recapturing its mind in the end, the wounded chimp fled the scene, returning to his bedroom in Herold's home to die. The cause of his attack remains under investigation.

Unfortunately reports still leave more questions than answers. The more we learn about chimps, the closer we feel to them, but our similarities are deceiving. There is much left to learn.

-- Sandra M. Klepach


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