Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not So Baffling Chimp Attack

I keep seeing headlines and story lines like "Animal Experts Baffled by Chimp Attack" and "Chimp Attack Puzzles Investigators". Both headlines and ones that would be similar are in reference to a one Travis the chimp who attacked his owner's friend and was subsequently shot dead by police after the shoveling beating and the cleaver stabbing failed as his owner attempted both as means of getting him to stop ripping apart her friend's face. (And kudos to WLNE-TV 6 out of Rhode Island with their idiotic headline "Chimp Attack: Is Having an Exotic Pet a Good Idea?" What's next? "Burning Buildings: Is Too Much Heat a Bad Idea?" "Electrocutions: Should You Really Dry Your Hair in the Bathtub? Film at 11." Morons.)

Now, I am not an expert on animals. I'm not much of an expert on much, really, but certainly not on animals. However I, unlike the investigators and experts, I am not baffled or puzzled or stumped by the chimp attack. I can give you the most plausible, most logical, most likely reason for why the chimp attacked. I'll try to phrase such a complicated answer in a way that's easy to understand. Ready? Here we go. The reason why the chimp attacked is: It's a chimp. Did I go too fast? Too many big words? Should I start over?

A bit of background on the aforementioned chimp attack. Travis the chimp is, as his name implies, a chimpanzee. But he was a chimpanzee living in Connecticut with a lonely widow who treated him...well....a little bit too much like a human being for my tastes. Travis was 14 (and in chimpanzee years, that's 14) and had lived with a one Sandra Herold for many years, at least 10. Travis had "...starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola, made an appearance on the "Maury Povich Show" and took part in a television pilot." Well, at least he had a job. (What's the country coming to when Travis the chimp has a job and a woman with fourteen children does not? What's wrong with that picture?)

Now, let's just remember that this is a chimpanzee we're talking about. It's a wild animal. I don't care how long it has lived with people, I don't care how long it has lived with Ms. Herold, it is still a wild animal and, just like their name says, they should probably be in the wild. And if they're not in the wild, I'm going to be that all of their animal instincts that they use in the wild are still fully in tact even when they're living in the 'burbs. Thus, if the animal feels threatened or confused or scared or whatever, it's going to do what animals tend to do in that situation and attack. It's going to do that because, once again, it's an animal.

Ms. Herold's friend, a one 55-year old Charla Nash, had come over to Ms. Herold's house and had her hair done differently than she usually does. Someone thinks that's important because Ms. Nash had been to the chimp house several times and knew the chimp and, presumedly, the chimp knew her, thus the chimp might not have recognized her with her new 'do. She got out of her car and Travis attacked her. Her injuries have been described as "life-changing, if not life-threatening." That's not good. That's not good at all. When your life is changed by a chimp, someone had better be asking, "WTF?"

Now, here are a few things Travis could do, as he was obviously not your normal chimp (if he were, he would have been in the jungle where he belongs). Travis was toilet trained (that would be my first requirement of any chimp in my home), could dress himself (even though animals don't need clothes because they're animals), take a bath himself and eat at the table. (He was fed things such as steak, lobster, Italian food and ice cream. Geez! No one feeds me steak and lobster!) Travis "...drank red 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." Hold on, one more! "Each night, Sandra Herold and her beloved chimp, Travis, would share a glass of wine before snuggling in bed together." Oh, my God!! WTF?!?!

Let me get this straight. You've got a buzzed monkey snuggled up next to you in bed each night?! OK, that was never on Wild Kingdom! I never saw that in National Geographic! That's because it's not normal! It's a freaking chimpanzee!! And you don't know why he attacked?! Come on!

I'm thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, the woman had convinced herself that Travis was a bit more human than he really was (and he wasn't at all!). And after reading the bit about her snuggling up to the drunken monkey, I'm starting to wonder if there wasn't a little monkey business going on as well (pardon the pun, it had to be said). Unfortunately, I think that there's a lot more to this story that might be coming out. Eww.

Here's a thought for those of you who want to have a pet chimp and teach it to do fun things like Travis did. How about one of the first tricks you teach these creatures is how to freaking talk! Once you can do that, once you can communicate with the creature by talking to it. That way you'll know what's wrong with it before it attacks your friend. Then later you can show it how to do all sorts of other things. (I would suggest you try to make them useful things. Mow the lawn, take out the trash, stuff like that. Using the Water Pik is cute and all, but does it really do anything for you? No, not so much. Manual labor is the way to go if you're going to own an animal that will one day rip off your face.) Now I suspect that teaching the chimp how to speak will take a while, but that's good! Maybe then you'll give up on the ridiculous idea of keeping one as a pet.

I will commend the chimp owner (or common-law wife, as the case might be) for not being more attached to Travis than she was to an actual person. That she tried to get Travis to stop attacking her friend by stabbing it with a butcher knife and whacking it with a shovel and then calling 911 and telling them to come shoot it, that's probably the most appropriate way that this woman has behaved in regard to this chimp the entire time she's had him.

So in conclusion, don't keep a chimp as a pet. They're not pets. They're wild animals (who should not wear clothes) and they will kill you if they get mad at you. They look all nice and cute (and very cuddly to some), but they're really quite mean and don't give a fat rat's ass about you or your friends. Keeping a chimp for a pet is not a pleasant experience for the chimp. Please realize that before you get a chimp (and then decide not to get one) rather than while your face is being clawed off.

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