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Travis the chimp killed by police after attacking woman

Stamford Police Officer Paul Pavia inspects the scene after Travis, a domesticated chimpanzee, was shot and killed by a Stamford Police officer

Travis, a 200-pound chimpanzee who once starred in commercials for Coca-Cola and Old Navy, was fatally shot by Stamford, Conn., police after he savagely attacked a female friend of his owner, Sandra Herold, 70. 

Charla Nash, 55, the victim of Travis' attack, went to Herold's home Monday to help her coax the chimp back into the home after it escaped. Travis lunged at Nash when she got out of her car; Herold went into the home to dial 911. 

While inside, she "retrieved a large butcher knife and stabbed her longtime pet numerous times in an effort to save her friend, who was really being brutally attacked," Stamford Police Capt. Richard Conklin said. Herold also struck Travis with a shovel when, she told police, she found that the knife had no effect.  The Associated Press reports:

Nash was in critical condition today after suffering what Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy called "life-changing, if not life-threatening," injuries to her face and hands.

Her sister-in-law, Kate Nash, said this morning that Nash underwent surgery Monday night and came out of it "OK."

Herold and two officers also received minor injuries, police said. Conklin said police don't know what triggered the attack.

After the attack on Nash, Travis began roaming Herold's property until, when police arrived, he attempted to attack officers as well. The officers retreated to their squad cars, but one shot the chimp fatally when it opened a squad car door and began to get in. "He had no other recourse," Conklin said, because the animal had cornered him.

Travis the chimpanzee sits in the corner of his playroom in 2003 The New York Times reports that Travis may have been suffering from an illness:

In an interview, [Capt. Conklin] said that Travis, 14, was believed to have Lyme disease, a tick-borne bacterial infection that in rare cases has been linked to psychosis, severe anxiety and delusional behavior. Travis had been in an agitated state most of the day Monday, and at one point his owner took the unusual step of giving him tea laced with Xanax in an attempt to calm him down, Capt. Conklin said.

"We're trying to see if that factored into this," he said of the Lyme disease.

Other than medication he might have been taking for the disease, Travis was not on any drugs and was not usually given Xanax, he added.

From the Associated Press:

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. 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.

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.

Herold and her late husband, Jerome, adopted Travis as an infant, Stamford mayor Malloy said in a news conference, adding "This animal was raised as a family member."

-- Lindsay Barnett

Top photo: Stamford Police Officer Paul Pavia inspects the scene outside Sandy Herold's Stamford home.  Credit: Chris Preovolos/Associated Press

Bottom photo: Travis in 2003. Credit: Kathleen O'Rourke/Associated Press

Video: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (11)

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'drank wine from a stemmed glass'????

They are NOT pets, for god's sakes... or toys to anthropomorphize and dress up to train to mimic human behavior.

A real tragedy for this animal.

How many more times does this have to happen before wild animals, such as chimpanzees, will be outlawed as pets? It doesn't matter what set supposedly domesticated Travis off on his murderous attack. It's too late. This is what can happen with mature, adult chips.Wild animals are going to do what wild animals do. It's that simple.

And is Sandra Herold going to jail for this? I imagine not, although since a chimpanzee is five times stronger than a man, a seventy year-old woman had NO business having a chimp in her house.

She is responsible for this chimp's death, just as she's responsible for the injuries to her friend. Chimps are not pets, but try telling that to people who selfishly and narcissistically use wild animals to get attention. They say they love these animals -- but ultimately the one it ends badly for is the animal. The one who pays is the one who had no choice, and time and time again the negligent owners get off. Travis was drugged, stabbed with a butcher knife, and shot to death. Who do we see about that? Who is responsible?

Sandra Herold, who I imagine thinks everyone should feel sorry for HER. Travis' death is entirely her fault, period.

Totally agree - there is no reason or purpose for people to keep wild animals in a captive, private environment as a pet. If you know anything about the wild animal you are contemplating introducing into your household as a pet, you will not do it in the first place. It appals me how easy it seems to be for any average person to obtain a wild animal as a pet.
Seriously, get real and leave caring for wild animals to the professionals.

What reasons or excuses do we give for MAN to kill or disfigure another person or animal? Natural instinct, drugs or alcohol, or just plain jealousy? This chimp was pretty domesticated, too bad he got loose that day when her friend was there.

Monkeys can make good pets. Chimps, not so much. They have been known to run up to a nursing chimp, punch out the mother, and eat the baby. Just because. They are vicious in nature, and I'm sure drugs and alchohol will help that out. (sarcasm) If anything, if you want a monkey, get one that doesn't have the strength and weight of a proffesional wrestler, and the temper of said wrestler on steroids. Common sence.

There is not a single monkey, or wild animal for that matter that makes a good pet, contrary to the above posters' comment. There was a documentary on television about it recently, and even small monkeys, with razor sharp teeth, and blinding speed, have bitten off many peoples fingers and attacked their LONG time owners. ITs crazy cooks who refuse to listen to anyone else because they think they have some "unique" bond or ability to go all Dr. Doo little. They cant speak to animals, let alone begin to comprehend the complex instinctive behavioral traits these creatures have, that we have some how abnormally "overridden"... most of the time.


Reader is absolutly right.

no one should kill an animal

To the commenter above:

You very badly need to hear the 911 call that was made by Herold as Travis was attacking Charla Nash. Her exact words were "He tore her face off. Oh God, he's eating her."

He's. Eating. Her.

It absolutely disgusts me that this article has a mournful undertone FOR THE CHIMP. It's a tragedy that this animal was placed in an entirely unnatural environment and suffered from the poor judgment of people, but this article should be mourning Charla Nash. The woman lost her eyesight, hands, nose, teeth, and had the bones in the middle of her face crushed-- all because she wanted to help her friend.

It's right and good to mourn the situation which lead to a lot of suffering and a violent death for Travis the chimp, but we should never forget why this story is so horrific.


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