The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Selling Dangerous Chimpanzees Can Lead Into Disaster

FESTUS, MO ( - Selling potentially dangerous exotic animals as pets is big business in Missouri. Now a string of animal attacks exposes a potential weakness in State Law. In recent months, we've seen reports of everything from an alligator discovered by two kids in a Jefferson County pond to a Tiger that mauled a man who was volunteering for a facility called Wesa-A-Geh-Ya.

Now -- according to the Kentucky based Primate Rescue Center -- two recent chimp attacks are linked to a Festus business called Chimparty.

Center founder April Truitt told Fox 2 that Chimp-party sold the chimp in February's Stamford, CT rampage. Truitt told us Chimparty also sold the Pet Chimpanzee in last month's Winston, Mo attack -- that ended when a police officer shot it to protect himself.

Jason Coats said that's what he had to do back in 2001.

He said, "Just hearing them gives me the chills."

Several Chimparty chimps escaped and roamed into his Mom's yard. At first he thought it was funny, until he said one of the animals pounded on his friend's car -- while they were all inside.

Coats said, "[The chimp] was rocking the car back and forth, windmilling on the windows."

Then he said his dog, lucky, tried protecting them. He said, "I'm thinking he's going to run them off. Well, about this time, he bites the one, Suzie, in the butt and it actually tore a piece of his flesh off and at that point he kind of screamed and reached around and grabbed him threw him across the back yard and I realized they're going to kill my dog."

He shot one of the chimps. Then a jury convicted him of felony animal abuse and sent him to jail for a month. A neighbor had testified that the chimps owners were trying to get the animals back into the Chimparty complex and they'd already been tranquilized.

Coats added, "Up until when I got attacked, I always thought it was kinda cool living next door to them. You know, who gets to live next door to basically an exotic farm?"

That might be why other exotics are showing up where you don't expect it. People think it's cool, until they realize they can't handle a wild animal. Like an alligator that showed up on Pacific pet shop owner Mike Pigg's door step.

Pigg said, "There's a cardboard box. I thought it'd be puppies or kittens. It was an american alligator."

He says he won't resell it, because it's just mean.

"Eventually that alligator will get big enough you know you're in deep trouble," he said.

Then two weeks after the gator delivery? "I come to work -- there's a pillow case on my door handle. I open the pillow case and there was a snake."

It's just too easy to own an exotic animal in Missouri. Pigg added, "I guarantee you a lot of people would be surprised on what their neighbor has in their house."

Macon, MO holds regular auctions. You can buy just about anything.

While Fox 2 has reported on many past auctions, owner Jim Lolli would not allow cameras this year. He told us he wants to protect the identity of customers who want to keep exotic animals without you knowing about it.

The Humane Society's Debbie Hill said, "It's frighteningly easy to obtain an exotic animal in Missouri and there is very little knowledge or enforcement of the current law."

That law? Only that you tell police you have an exotic animal. Hill believes stricter laws would help discourage people from thinking they can tame a wild beast.

"Simply raising an animal from infancy does not mean you have domesticated that animal. It is still a wild animal. A tiger is still a tiger. A chimpanzee is still a chimpanzee."

That's how Jason Coats said he looked at it when he saw wild chimps in his yard. He was only 17 when he was forced into a decision he wishes he never had to make.

Coats added, "There's a lot of people trying to protect the chimps but there's not a lot of people trying to protect the next 17 year old that's going to be attacked or the next poor woman trying to help someone reign in a chimp."

No one from Chimparty would respond to our phone calls or our personal visit. The Primate Rescue Center said Missouri is one of the worst three state at regulating the ownership of exotic animals -- along with Texas and Florida. Missouri Legislators are currently looking at two new bills that would add guidelines and restrictions."

Get this The chimpanzee who went crazy in Connecticut last week is the son of a chimp who also escaped and was shot by a neighbor. Unlike the Connecticut story, however, nobody was hurt in 2001. And unlike the Connecticut story, the 17-year-old who killed the rampaging chimp in 2001 was convicted for it:

According to published reports, Travis' mother, named Suzy, was shot and killed following an escape and rampage in 2001. Suzy was living on the Missouri ranch where Travis was adopted from by Sandra Herold when he was 3 days old.

The New York Daily News reported that Suzy was shot by a teenager after escaping the ranch and wreaking havoc. The primate's death reportedly captivated the Missouri town of Festus and led to a trial that ended with the conviction of the chimp's killer.

And here's a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story from the 2001 incident. An excerpt:

There are differing accounts of the events that led up to the death of the
animal. Suzie and the other chimps escaped after Connie Casey failed to
properly secure the lock on their cages, she admits. Mike Casey was out of
town with other animals, making a TV commercial.

The animals left the Casey property and soon were in the nearby yard of the
house where the youth lives.

He arrived home with friends and killed the chimp soon thereafter, he told
Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputies.

Authorities say the boy told deputies that his friends were trapped in the
truck by the three apes, which, he said, were aggressive and threatening
and that he was forced to protect them with a gun.

Reached by telephone at home earlier this week, the youth refused to
comment. He will be retaining a lawyer, he says.

But witnesses said the killing of the ape appeared unnecessary. J.C. Wills,
a man whose house is only yards from where the shooting took place, said
the youth's statements to police were untrue.

The youth and his friends, who had driven up in a truck while Connie Casey
was pursuing the animals, had all gone safely into the house, Wills says.

Only then, he said, did the youth emerge with a shotgun.

"We told those boys to go in their house and stay there, and they won't
have any problems, but instead, one of them gets a gun and comes out,"
Wills said.

"That chimp had been shot with a tranquilizer dart and was no harm to
anyone, but he shot him three times with a shotgun."

A woman who slowed down to see the commotion as she drove by the house saw
Suzie in the yard and the boy with the shotgun on the porch and guessed
trouble was brewing.

"I saw the chimpanzee sitting under a bush near the road, and I knew it was
under control," said Christine Thomas, who lives nearby.

"But then I saw that boy on the porch with his friends, and they had a gun;
and I knew what they were going to do."

Thomas says it was obvious that the youths were in no danger.

I say give the kid a new trial, but I also wonder what would have happened if a neighbor had shot the Connecticut ape prior to it attacking? I assume we'd be at the same place as in the 2001 incident where the owner would make the argument that there was "no danger."



1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:43 AM

    I agree regarding Jason Coats. NO NEW TRIAL! Jason Coats got what he deserved. If he had listened to the adults and stayed in the house instead of trying to be a "big man" and impress his friends Suzy would still be alive. The fact that he is now using the tragic attack of Charla Nash as an excuse for what he did then proves that this young man is still a hothead that has not matured at all. He is now implying he was attacked when he has admitted his first shot hit Suzy in the back! Witnesses have testified that this chimp was sedated and on the verge of being unconcious. Jason Coats was also heard telling his friends he was going to kill him a monkey. He got what he deserved! Now he is using the Connecticut tragedy for his own gains. He obviously has no concious at all.
    I am strongly opposed to chimpanzees being bred and sold as pets and used in the entertainment industry but Suzy should not have had to pay for the actions of her owner anymore than Travis did. It saddens me that due to these tragedies chimps are made to look like vicious animals when they are only being true to their nature. It's the animal that pays for the irresponsibility of the human and they pay with their lives. Don't blame the chimpanzee for being a chimp. Blame the human for trying to humanize the chimp.