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, August 28, 2009

The Wisdom of Keeping Chimpanzees as Pets

Earlier this week, a 14-year-old, 200-pound (90-kilogram) pet chimpanzee in Stamford, Conn., left a woman in critical condition after attacking her—mutilating her face and hands. The owner, Sandra Herold, who tried to stop the attack, was also injured and briefly hospitalized. The victim remains in critical condition.

The chimp, Travis, who was shot and killed by police officers at the scene, was apparently a friendly fixture around the neighborhood. He appeared in television commercials and had a sapiens-level CV that included using a computer, bathing and sipping wine from a stemmed glass, according to The New York Times. Reports, however, are starting to surface that Travis might have bitten another woman in 1996 and that Herold had been warned by animal control that her pet could be dangerous.

Chimpanzees, with a genetic profile that's 98 percent like ours, can seem like cute, hairy iterations of people. But periodic violent attacks on humans, including one in Havilah, Calif., in 2005 in which a man was maimed by two chimps at an animal sanctuary, are reminders that the animals have at least one big difference: brute strength.

So why would an allegedly acclimated chimpanzee turn on a human—especially one whom he had known? Travis was reportedly suffering from Lyme disease, caused by a tick-borne bacterium and known to cause fatigue, joint problems and mental difficulties—including trouble focusing and poor memory in humans. Some have suggested that the attack was spurred by Xanax, a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders in humans, with side effects that can—but rarely—include depression, confusion and problem behavior. Travis’ owner claims to have given him a Xanax-laced tea the day of the attack.

To find out more about chimpanzee attacks, we spoke with Frans de Waal, lead biologist from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He is affiliated with the Living Links Center at Emory University in Atlanta where he is a professor of psychology, and is also author of The New York Times notable book of the year, Our Inner Ape.
Source and Finale
[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

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