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Chimp attack victim feared the animal might hurt someone, brothers say

July 1, 2009 |  1:47 pm

TravisCharla Nash, the woman who suffered horrific injuries earlier this year as a result of a chimpanzee attack in Stamford, Conn., feared Travis the chimp might hurt someone, the Associated Press reports

Nash's brothers, Stephen and Michael Nash, have spoken on their sister's behalf since the February incident and now say she felt Travis was mean before he apparently snapped and attacked her. Further, they told the Associated Press that Charla Nash described him as so strong that she had to repair his cage on more than one occasion.

Travis, a 200-pound adult male, was kept as a pet by Sandra Herold, a friend of Charla Nash.  Herold called Nash to help her corral Travis after he escaped her home; the chimp attacked shortly after Nash emerged from her car. When police arrived on the scene, Travis went after an officer as well.  Police shot him, and he died of his wounds a short time later.

Prior to the February incident, Travis was by all accounts a well-loved member of the Herold family (Sandra Herold adopted Travis with her late husband), even eating at the table and watching television with the aid of a remote control.

But there were red flags: Travis escaped the Herolds' vehicle in 2003 and evaded police for several hours before eventually being recaptured. In the months and years after the 2003 incident, both members of the public and wildlife experts expressed concerns about the chimp.  Late last year, an unnamed Department of Environmental Protection biologist wrote a two-page memo calling Travis' situation "an accident waiting to happen."  The memo was given to senior staff at the department's Bureau of Natural Resources but apparently went unheeded.

In March, the Nash family filed a $50-million lawsuit against Herold, accusing her of effectively allowing the attack to happen through her own negligence.  The lawsuit describes Nash's injuries, including the loss of both her hands and "traumatic facial injury [including loss of her nose, upper and lower lips, eyelids and the bony structures in her mid-face]," as catastrophic. Herold's attorney said his client should not be held liable for the incident, calling it a "tragic accident"

As of June 20, Nash was still hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic, where she has remained since being transferred there shortly after the attack.  Her condition at that time was listed as stable, according to the Associated Press.

The case of Travis may lead to new wildlife legislation
House votes to approve Captive Primate Safety Act after chimp attack
Primatologist Jane Goodall speaks out about chimpanzee attack

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Travis in a 2003 photo.  Credit: Associated Press

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