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!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

After Jeanne Rizzotto's Chimpanzee's Escape and Bite They Were Ordered To Be Quarantine

RED LODGE - The Carbon County Board of Health voted unanimously Thursday to require Jeanne Rizzotto to quarantine her two chimps, provide current medical records and update their vaccinations. The board stopped short of ordering Rizzotto to send the primates to a chimp sanctuary, although several members made that recommendation.
"They (chimps) are at a critical age for going into the sanctuary and have it be successful," said Becky Frank, veterinarian and health board member. "If they wait, I've been told without older chimps to tone them down, they run the risk of injury or even being killed by other chimps."
The stipulations - current vaccinations, records and quarantine - listed during the special meeting Thursday only reinforced the same stipulations made by the board in January.
"We asked for no public access to the chimps and for vet records and a current report," said John Prinkki, county commissioner and chair of the board. "We haven't received either of those."
This time, Rizzotto was given two weeks to provide previous vet records and 30 days to update the chimps with rabies, tetanus and MMR vaccinations, along with a report on the TB status and additional tests. If she does not meet the requirements, Carbon County Attorney Alex Nixon said the county would consider "injunctive relief."
In fact, board members expressed concern that reporters for national news shows had visited Rizzotto's home and were filmed in contact with at least one of the 6-year-old chimpanzees.
According to Nixon, Montana now considers chimpanzees to be illegal exotic pets. However, both chimps were brought into the state prior to that designation, he said.
The board's action came in response to an incident in early November when one of Rizzotto's chimps bit a woman who was visiting a neighbor. Authorities and Rizzotto differ on whether the primates escaped from their enclosure or were released by vandals. In January, Rizzotto was charged with a misdemeanor nuisance complaint as a result of the incident. Arraignment on that charge is set for March 23 in justice court in Red Lodge. More recently, a chimp attack in Connecticut, which left a woman critically injured, re-emphasized the potential danger associated with keeping wild animals as pets.
While Rizzotto contends that her chimps are not violent, she admits that Connor is a "biter." She compared his bites to bites on her hand from a new puppy. But court records that describe the November incident say when the chimp pulled away from the woman, "he pulled the skin across her forearm."
The chimps have been the focus of public health concern in Red Lodge for several years, beginning when Rizzotto took them into restaurants and other public locations. Since 2005, the chimps have not been to town, she said. Rizzotto has told the board she plans to move the chimps to Arizona where she spends some of her time. But the process could take several years.
Meanwhile, the board worries about the chimps as they mature. Frank, who contacted several primate veterinarians, said she learned that chimpanzees in captivity can reach sexual maturity by age 5. At that point, they can become more aggressive. Even at only 4 or 5 feet tall, they can display the strength of several full-grown men.
Besides public health concerns, Frank and Jeff Ewelt, director of the Beartooth Nature Center, voiced concern for the animals.
"For the welfare of the animals, the best thing for these animals is to get them in with their own kind," Ewelt said.


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