Fri 4 Mar, 2005 01:20 pm
Chimps Maul Visitor at Calif. Sanctuary
Fri Mar 4,10:03 AM ET
By KIM CURTIS, Associated Press Writer
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A couple's plans for a birthday party for their former pet chimpanzee turned tragic when two other chimps at an animal sanctuary escaped from their cage and attacked. The man was critically injured with massive wounds to his face, body and limbs, and the attacking animals were shot dead.
St. James and LaDonna Davis were at the Animal Haven Ranch in Caliente to celebrate the birthday of Moe, a 39-year-old chimpanzee who was taken from their suburban Los Angeles home in 1999 after biting off part of a woman's finger.
Moe was not involved in Thursday's attack, said Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.
The couple had brought Moe a cake and were standing outside his cage when Buddy and Ollie, two of four chimpanzees in the adjoining cage, attacked St. James Davis, Martarano said. Officials have not determined how the chimps got out of their enclosure, he said.
LaDonna Davis, 64, suffered a bite wound to the hand while trying to help her 62-year-old husband, Martarano said.
The son-in-law of the sanctuary's owner killed the attacking animals, Martarano said.
"He saw what was happening and had one kind of weapon with him and then got another he felt would be more substantial and shot them," Martarano said. "He pretty much saved a life."
St. James Davis had severe facial injuries and would require extensive surgery in an attempt to reattach his nose, Dr. Maureen Martin of Kern Medical Center told KGET-TV of Bakersfield. His testicles and a foot also were severed, Kern County Sheriff's Cmdr. Hal Chealander told The Bakersfield Californian.
Davis was transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he was undergoing surgery late Thursday, Martarano said.
Buddy, a 16-year-old male chimp, initiated the attack and after he was shot, Ollie, a 13-year-old male, grabbed the gravely injured man and dragged him down the road, authorities said.
"Everybody was trying to get the chimp off," Chealander said.
Two other chimps, females named Susie and Bones, also escaped from the cage they shared with Ollie and Buddy, prompting sheriff's deputies, animal control workers, and Fish and Game officials to launch a search.
The wayward pair were recovered by Animal Haven owner Virginia Brauer after five hours. Martarano said one chimp was two miles from the sanctuary, located 25 miles southeast of Bakersfield.
The Davises had waged an unsuccessful legal fight to bring Moe back to their West Covina home and visited him regularly at the sanctuary where he had been living since October. They brought the chimp from Africa decades ago after a poacher killed his mother.
Animal Haven Ranch has held state permits to shelter animals since 1985 and serves as a sanctuary for animals that have been confiscated or discovered lost, Martarano said.
It is allowed to house up to nine primates at one time and is home to one spider monkey and six chimpanzees, he said. The permits are held by Virginia and Ralph Brauer, whom neighbors described as responsible animal lovers.
"She's devoted her whole life to taking care of these chimpanzees," said Jeanne Miller, a family friend.
I've always said that it's a bad day when your nose gets bitten off by a chimpanzee.
Of course, it's an even worse day when your testicles get bitten off too.
It's such a shocking story. First of all what were the others doing out? Why were they attacking? How did they do all that damage before help arrived? There'as a lot not said in this article. Slipshod reporting.
I think one of the chimps was Michael Jackson's former cosmetic surgeon.
Ahhhh! Practice, practice, practice.
OK-- Here we go. Planet of the Apes.
They planned that attack, and worked together.
They went for his balls, people. Isn't this a Star Trek episode?
I'm still thinking.... Chimps? Like the cute little chimp Tarzan carried around?
Not Gorillas, or Apes, but chimps?
Chimps get pretty big, and they're extremely strong. Plus they throw their poop.
...and share baby-making fluids with unsuspecting passers-by...
So, one chimp managed to sever his nose, testicles and foot before someone came to help.....? Amazing.
AND dragged him down the road!!!
(Maybe thats where the testicle comes in if the chimp was dragging him by the... Sorry, didn't mean to make anyone wince)
Chimps can be larger than many people realize. We're used to the image of tv shows and movies.
Male chimpanzees are larger than the females.
Chimpanzees Height Weight
Female 2-3.5 ft (0.66 -1 m) 57 -110 pounds (26 - 50 kg)
Male 3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) 90 - 115 pounds (35 - 70 kg)
Top Stories - AP
Chimpanzee Attack Doesn't Surprise Experts
2 hours, 49 minutes ago
By KIM CURTIS and TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Writers
HAVILAH, Calif. - Chimpanzees come across to the public as little darlings, often in diapers and always willing to hold hands. But they're really aggressors, primate experts say, more than capable of carrying out attacks as violent as one that left a man fighting for his life.
Generally weighing between 120 and 150 pounds with strength much greater than man, chimps in the wild are known to kill chimps from neighboring groups, hunt other primates and even attack humans.
"Male chimps are intensely territorial. They defend their territory against any perceived threat," said Craig Stanford, a professor at the University of Southern California who studies primate behavior. "Chimps can be violent at times just as humans can be."
On Friday, authorities continued to investigate how two chimps at an animal sanctuary escaped from their cage and mauled St. James Davis, 62. They were shot to death during Thursday's attack by the son-in-law of the sanctuary's owners, Virginia and Ralph Brauer.
Animal Haven Ranch, about 30 miles east of Bakersfield, has held state permits to shelter exotic animals since 1985. It is allowed to house up to nine primates at one time and is home to one spider monkey and six chimpanzees.
"A big part of the investigation will be figuring out whether the owners were in compliance with regulations," Sheriff's Cmdr. Hal Chealander said.
State wildlife and county health authorities were testing the chimps for rabies and other diseases that could affect the victims' health, Chealander said.
Davis, 62, and his wife, LaDonna Davis, 64, were visiting the sanctuary to celebrate the birthday of a 39-year-old chimpanzee, Moe, who was taken from their home in 1999 after biting off part of a woman's finger.
The couple had brought Moe a cake and were standing outside his cage when the two young male chimps, Ollie and Buddy, attacked the man.
Two other chimps, females named Susie and Bones, also escaped from the cage. They were recovered outside the sanctuary five hours later.
Susie and Bones could have played a role in the attack, primate experts said.
"We know that one of the most reliable predictors of increased male aggression is the presence of sexually receptive females," said Jeffrey French, a psychobiologist who studies primate behavior at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
The chimps chewed off most of Davis' face, tore off his foot and attacked his limbs and genitals. Davis was transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he had surgery late Thursday night.
The medical center would not release any information about Davis' condition on Friday. Hospital spokeswoman Julie Smith said the family requested confidentiality.
LaDonna Davis was bitten on the hand. She was released from the hospital Friday .
The Brauers would not speak to reporters, but a family friend gave a statement to The Associated Press, which read, "All of us here at Animal Haven Ranch are praying for the recovery of St. James Davis and LaDonna Davis."
"This is the only incident in 20 years of operation," the statement said.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (news - web sites) to ban private ownership of exotic animals in California, citing the increasing popularity of keeping such animals as pets. The group said there have been more than 90 reported dangerous incidents nationwide involving primates since 1990.
Kim Curtis reported from Havilah, and Terence Chea reported from San Francisco.
Bobsmythhawk - this is yet more proof that wild animals should be kept in suitable surroundings - and NO that doesn't mean zoo cages OR apartments!
Did you really mean to agree with this btw..>
"We know that one of the most reliable predictors of increased male aggression is the presence of sexually receptive females," said Jeffrey French, a psychobiologist ...
> sounds to me like the chimps behaved like humans in a night club <G>
Except of course that they can't even talk to threaten us so they are forced to resort to a more direct action. Many of the people on this site realize my pal Mike and I band hawks for U. S. Fish and Wildlfe. I've been banding for 35 years. We are not in the least surprised when a hawk reacting more quickly than us opens a gash in our hands. We don't get angry except at ourselves since we didn't use enough caution. These birds kill to eat. Naive expectations of behavior can have disastrous results as is the case here. I don't blame the chimps or the folks who decided to visit their old friend. The chimps were in the care of allegedly capable people. Something went wrong. Why. I don't know but am interested in finding out why the attack was able to happen and why there was a serious lapse of time before rescue could be accomplished.
Bobsmythhawk - I have great respect for what you're saying coming from a different angle: I'm a pilot and I know that the only thing that ever stopped birds getting sucked into plane engines during takeoff on runways was having hawks arrive with their trainers. No matter how high up the hawk happens to be, other birds know to clear off the runway AND (oddly) also clear the glide slope the plane has to climb after takeoff.
I admire people such as yourself who'll put in the time, effort and expertise to work with animals.
I'm still thinking.... Chimps? Like the cute little chimp Tarzan carried around?
Not Gorillas, or Apes, but chimps?
Chimps ARE apes.
They are genetically our closest relatives - and by far the most aggressive of the apes - seemingly carrying out quite long wars of attrition against weaker groups - also they hunt.
The truth of the matter is Mike and I would pay to do it. We love it that much. (But don't tell or they may start charging us). It's volunteer work so the expenditures for nets etc. comes from our own pockets. Mike has been banding over 55 years. The bands themselves are produced by USF&W. One of Mike's sons was with us some years ago and caught a hawk. We keep in touch with each other by walkie talkies. Anyway, he'd caught a hawk that had already been banded. He gave the band number to Mike to record and report. USF&W then forwards the info to the original bander. Mike checked his records and found that the hawk had been banded by himself 18 years before in it's nest. Now that was a first even for us.
Bob - my lips are sealed but YOU please call your local airport whenever you have a chance: they may be willing to pay good money to keep runways safe. We've lost countless planes, pilots, passengers - plus the unfortunate birds - due to such accidents. Millions were spent on stuff that didn't work - loud noises, smoke generators, even rock bands playing at 130 decibels. The birds kept clear initially then concluded it's yet another of our silly fancies and subsequently ignored the whole thing.
It's incredible to me that a single hawk at such a high altitude that ATC (air traffic control) can't locate him is nevertheless visible to all other birds on the ground near the airport. There's no arguing with facts though; hawks are the only thing that has worked.
I am a huge animal lover, but I don't particularly like the primates. This news story is a good example of why.
There are a lot of people all over the world who keep unsuitable animals as pets. Its never a good idea!