People Who Owned Chimps As Pets And Paid The Price

On the surface, owning a pet chimpanzee seems remarkably appealing; movies tell us they're cute, fun, entertaining, and just like us. Yes, we share around 99% of our DNA with them, but there's one key difference between our two species: grown chimpanzees have the strength of several adult humans. So, in reality, they can be 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 usually grow up to become aggressive wild animals.

Never mind that it's illegal to keep chimps as pets in most of the US, it's also incredibly foolish. Pet chimpanzees often attack their owners or other people they encounter. And the injuries are 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 The Face And Hands Of His Owner's Family Friend

    Travis the chimpanzee grew up with the Herold family in Stamford, CT. By all accounts, he was remarkably human-like for a chimpanzee. He drank wine, enjoyed baseball and ice cream, used keys to open doors, starred in TV commercials, and could even drive a car. He was especially loved by his keeper, Sandra Herold.

    But in February 2009, Travis managed to escape and Sandra's friend Charla Nash came over to help get Travis back home. But when Nash exited her car, Travis immediately attacked, biting and clawing off her face and hands.

    Sandy tried to help her friend by calling 911, and even went as far as stabbing Travis multiple times with a knife. It was all for naught, however. When police officers pulled up, Travis opened one of the patrol car doors and was shot dead on the spot by the officer inside.

    Nash had to go through surgery for her numerous injuries, receiving both face and hand transplants at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA.


  • The Owners Of Moe The Chimpanzee Suffered A Horrible Animal Attack

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

    Over the years, the human couple and their chimpanzee lived together in West Covina, CA, a suburb about 20 miles east of Los Angeles. They ate, slept, and watched TV together. The trio gained local fame, and Moe even made some TV appearances.

    When Moe was in his 30s, he began to display aggressive behaviors. 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 the Davises could visit him.

    One fateful day, the Davises were visiting Moe at the sanctuary for his 39th birthday. Tragically, two chimpanzees escaped from their cages. Jealous of the Davises' attention to Moe, one went directly after LaDonna, biting her thumb off after an attempted tackle.

    St. James jumped in to save his wife, and became the main victim of the attacking primates. After five minutes, LaDonna's screams caught the attention of the sanctuary owner's son. He shot both chimpanzee's. St. James was left massively disfigured from the incident.

    Despite everything, the couple continued to visit Moe until he mysteriously disappeared from the sanctuary.

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

    Buddy and CJ were two chimps who lived in Las Vegas, NV, under the care of Timmi DeRosa and Lee Watkinson, a professional poker player. Both chimps were born in captivity, then bought with Watkinson's poker winnings and raised in a state where there were no state laws determining whether or not people could keep exotic animals .

    On July 12, 2012, CJ and Buddy escaped from their cage. Buddy ripped his cage 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 his family's life, grabbed his gun. 

    Eventually, the chimps left the house and continued through the streets. Buddy was fatally shot by a police officer; CJ was tranquilized and re-captured. The pair of escaped chimps struck fear into the hearts of the entire neighborhood,

  • Sueko Ran Loose In Kansas City And Destroyed Police Property

    In 2010, a 300-pound chimpanzee named Sueko broke out of her owner's house in Kansas City, MO. 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. The animal also punched out the window of a police car. 

    Sueko was shot with a tranquilizer, which turned out to be ineffective at sedating the chimp. Sueko would ultimately return to its cage, however, after her owner coaxed her back into her cage.

    Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the owner incurred a fine and lost possession of the animal. Sueko was first brought to Monkey Island Rescue, an exotic animal sanctuary located in Greenwood, MO before being transferred to the Kansas City Zoo.

  • Timmy The Chimpanzee Attacked A Police Officer

    In 2009, a 9-year-old chimp named Timmy allegedly tried attacking a police officer in Winston, MO. Timmy broke free from his cage in his owner's backyard. He roamed the neighborhood and was eventually approached by police. Timmy reportedly tried opening their squad car door and grabbed an officers before being shot.

    Though Timmy's life came to an unfortunate end, the incident led to a larger bust. When police investigated the home of Timmy's owners, they discovered an illegal puppy mill with about 100 to 200 small-breed dogs as well as three other primates. The three residents were arrested and charged with multiple animal abuse charges.

  • In Montana, Connor The Chimp Bit A Woman

    Jeanne Rizzotto, a real estate agent and resident of Carbon County, MT, raised two chimpanzees from birth. Rizzotto treated them like they were her own kids. The chimps - Connor and Kramer, both about 6 years old at the time of the incident - lived in Rizzotto's home; they had their own beds and a set of pajamas.

    Allegedly, a group of vandals approached Rizzotto's residence one evening in 2008, breaking the locks to the chimps' cages and setting them free. One chimp was rescued by Rizzotto's son, but the other wasn't as lucky - he attacked a woman. Though she wasn't badly injured, she later underwent a series of tests, as chimp bites can transmit diseases like herpes and rabies.

    Rizzotto reportedly sent Connor and Kramer to Save the Chimps, an animal sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida after the incident.