Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chimp Change

photo: AP

Travis, a trained chimpanzee, was killed by the police after he mauled a friend of his owner, who had done nothing to provoke him, except apparently, wear her hair differently.
Travis (last name Bickle by any chance?) lived, not where he should, in the bush in Africa, but in a house in Hartford, Connecticut (no wonder he was pissed).
When he was younger, he was put to work on commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola and even tried out for a TV pilot. To judge from the photo, like pretty much every other American, Travis was grossly overweight and underexercised. He looks like a couch potato.
He lived in a cage inside the house. It may have been a big, pretty cage with many toys and his owners probably loved him but still, this is not right. Why should a chimpanzee live in the human world? And make money for his owners? Why should he be paraded in town wearing diapers?
Below, the news item. My comments in bold:
"There was no provocation that we know of. One thing that we're looking into is that we understand the chimpanzee has Lyme disease and has been ill from that, so maybe from the medications he was out of sorts. We really don't know," Conklin (chief of police) said.

Colleen McCann, a primatologist at the Bronx Zoo, said Tuesday that chimpanzees are unpredictable and dangerous even after living among humans for years.

....The chimpanzee... went after several of the officers, who retreated into their cars, Conklin said. Travis knocked the mirror off a cruiser before opening its door and starting to get in, trapping the officer.

That officer shot the chimpanzee several times, Conklin said.

The wounded chimpanzee fled the scene, but Conklin said police were able to follow the trail of his blood: down the driveway, into the open door of the home, through the house and to his living quarters, where he had retreated and died of his wounds. It's very moving that he went back to his lair to die. So sad.

Herold and two officers also received minor injuries, police said.

Conklin told reporters the chimp was acting so agitated earlier that afternoon that Herold gave him the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in some tea. Probably not a good idea. Conklin also suggested the animal may have attacked Nash because she was wearing her hair differently and perhaps wasn't recognized.

Police have dealt with him in the past, including an incident in 2003 when he escaped from his owners' vehicle in downtown Stamford for two hours. I'd be pissed if they left me in the car too. Officers used cookies, macadamia treats and ice cream in an attempt to lure him, but subdued him only after he became too tired to resist. Just so you know, if that happens to me, hold the macadamias.

At the time of the 2003 incident, police said the Herolds told them the chimpanzee was toilet trained, dressed himself, took his own bath, ate at the table and drank wine from a stemmed glass. He also brushed his teeth using a Water Pik, logged onto the computer to look at pictures, and watched television using the remote control, police said.

I heard he also made a mean martini. He was my friend in facebook. Geez!

Well, this may seem very cute to us, but it's not right. Chimps are very smart, but why should they ever come in contact with a Water Pik? People should leave animals alone. If you must live with an animal, it should be a dog or a cat or a goldfish. Everybody else in the animal kingdom needs to live in their own habitat with their own animal friends and foes. People abuse animals with the excuse of protecting them. With the excuse of love and companionship too. Leave them alone.

If I was the mauled friend, I'd seriously think of suing Travis' owner. She could not control him and there is no reason why those people should have an ape living at home. They were profiting from him too, no matter how expensive his upkeep.

By the way, why do we have to own animals? Who gave us the right to sell them and breed them for our own amusement? You see, I go PETA (which I loathe) one better. As part of the animal kingdom, we should kill animals for food (and shoes maybe). Everything else -- zoos, circuses, aquariums, performing animals and pets -- is not okay. Although I must say, I like zoos and aquariums because that's the only way we get to see the animals we keep extinguishing. The circus I hate.

You can't eat your animals and have them too.

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