Weird Nature People Who Owned Chimps As Pets And Paid The Price  

Lee Emjay
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On the surface, owning your very own pet chimpanzee seems remarkably appealing; movies tell us they're cute, fun, entertaining, and just like us. Yes, we share 98% of our DNA with them, but there's one key difference between our two species: grown chimpanzees have the strength of five grown men. So, in reality, they're remarkably scary and dangerous animals to keep as pets. No, chimpanzees are not like human children. Though they may be docile at a very young age, they always, always grow up to become aggressive wild animals.

Never mind that it's now illegal to keep chimps as pets in most of the US, it's also incredibly stupid. Pet chimpanzees almost always attack their owners or other people they cross paths with. And they're nothing like the dog-bite attacks you occasionally see. Chimp attacks are horrifying, tragic, and downright shocking. When pet chimps attack humans, it's something worse than your worst nightmare.

Travis The Chimp Tore Off A Wo... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list People Who Owned Chimps As Pets And Paid The Price
Photo: Wikipedia/Fair use

Travis The Chimp Tore Off A Woman's Face And Hands After Taking Xanax

Travis the chimpanzee grew up with the Herold family in North Stamford, Connecticut. By all accounts, he was remarkably human-like for a chimpanzee. He brushed his teeth, dressed himself, watched baseball on TV, tracked down ice cream trucks, used keys to open doors, and even posed in ad pictures for the Herold's towing company. He was especially loved by his keeper, Sandy Herold.

Over the late 1990s and early 2000s, Travis was responsible for a few alleged attacks around the North Stamford area. A woman accused Travis of biting her finger, and a man accused Travis of chasing him around after escaping the family car. But still, Sandy Herold thought him docile and harmless, incapable of truly hurting a human. But that all changed in 2009.

In February of 2009, Travis managed to get out of the house with Sandy's car keys. Sandy's friend Charla Nash came over to help get Travis back home. But when Nash exited her car, Travis immediately attacked, biting off her face and hands. Police believe the aggression may have been triggered by a dose of Xanax that Travis had recently taken or Nash's new haircut. Sandy Herold tried to help her friend by calling 911 and even went as far as striking Travis with a shovel and stabbing him with a knife. This was all for naught, however. Travis was killed at the scene. When police officers pulled up, Travis approached one of the patrol car doors and was shot dead on the spot.

For her part, Nash had to go through face transplant surgery, as well as surgery to reattach her hands. She was rendered blind for the rest of her life.

The Owners Of Moe The Chimpanz... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list People Who Owned Chimps As Pets And Paid The Price
Photo:  YouTube

The Owners Of Moe The Chimpanzee Suffered Probably The Worst Animal Attack Ever

St. James and LaDonna Davis were high school sweethearts. They'd planned to get married fresh out of high school - that is, until St. James left LaDonna at the alter and scooted out of town on a boat headed for Africa. Eventually, he came to his senses and came home. Except he wasn't alone - he brought Moe, a chimpanzee he'd rescued from the wild, back home with him. Not long after, he and LaDonna finally married.

Over the years, the human couple and their chimpanzee son - at least, that's how they saw him - lived harmoniously in their small California town. They ate together, slept together, and watched TV together. The couple knew that chimpanzees grew up to have the strength of several grown men and that they could get more aggressive as they got older. But they didn't care. They loved Moe like a son.

When Moe was in his 30s, he began to display the trademark aggressive behavior of older chimps. He got loose from the house and even bit a woman's finger. After a raid by police and animal control, Moe was eventually taken away by the state. Many legal battles ensued, and Moe was eventually granted the right to stay at a sanctuary for apes, where his "parents" could visit him.

One fateful day, St. James and LaDonna were visiting Moe at the sanctuary for his 39th birthday. Tragically, two chimpanzees got loose from their cages. Jealous of the Davis's attention over Moe, one went directly after LaDonna, biting her thumb off after an attempted tackle. St. James jumped in to save his wife, and he became the main victim of the attacking primates. Before the sanctuary manager could step in and shoot the apes, they bit off part of St. James's face, his lips, teeth, buttocks, fingers, and genitals. St. James was left massively disfigured and wheelchair-bound from the incident.

Despite everything, the couple continued to visit Moe until he ultimately disappeared from the sanctuary, never to be seen again.

Chimps CJ And Buddy Wreaked Ha... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list People Who Owned Chimps As Pets And Paid The Price
Photo:  David Grant/Flickr

Chimps CJ And Buddy Wreaked Havoc On An Entire Las Vegas Neighborhood

Buddy and CJ were two chimps who lived in Las Vegas under the care of Tammi DeRosa and Lee Watkinson, a professional poker player. Like so many other stories of chimpanzee pet tragedies, both chimps were taken in at a young, docile age while they still acted like human children. And, like all pet chimpanzees, CJ and Buddy grew to be strong and dangerous wild animals. 

One day in 2012, CJ and Buddy escaped from their cage. Buddy, in an apparent furious fit from being caged, ripped the metal bars from the attached concrete and broke through a padlock on a nearby fence. Both chimps then proceeded to a neighbor's house, where they pounded on a window, breaking part of it and terrifying the neighbors in the process. One resident, fearing for the life of his family, grabbed his gun. 

Eventually the chimps left the house and proceeded through the streets. Tragically, Buddy was shot by a heavily armed police officer. CJ was tranquilized and re-captured but was shipped away to a zoo. The pair of escaped chimps struck fear into the hearts of the entire neighborhood and spelled tragedy for the chimps' owners, who treated them like children.

Though it has been years since the terror, Nevada is still one of the states in the US with the loosest exotic pet laws.

Sueko Ran Loose In Kansas City... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list People Who Owned Chimps As Pets And Paid The Price
Photo:  YouTube

Sueko Ran Loose In Kansas City And Destroyed Police Property

In 2010, a 300-pound chimpanzee named Sueko broke out of its owner's house in Kansas City, Missouri. On that seemingly pleasant Fall day, Sueko set fear into the hearts of an entire neighborhood.

In the hours that Sueko ran free, the chimpanzee attacked numerous vehicles along Kansas City roads, jumping on the roofs of civilian cars - one victim was quoted as saying she was terrified because "[Sueko] was on the roof screaming bloody murder" - and even punched out the window of a police car. To end the rampage, Sueko was shot with a tranquilizer before she was ultimately guided back to her cage by her owner.

The owner incurred a decent fine and ultimately lost possession of the animal.