When February of 2009 rolled around, a horrible and terrifying event occurred in Stamford, CT. Sandra Herold had called 911, screaming into the phone, “Oh my God! He’s eating her! He’s eating her face!” The horrifying ordeal begins with Travis, her pet chimpanzee, and ends when her friend, Charla Nash, being blinded with half her face ripped off.
Travis the chimp was once a celebrity, and had appeared on several TV commercials including Coco-Cola as well as Old Navy. He was said to be friendly, and to Herold, he was her family. She claims she had had him as a child. Never would Herold have seen herself stabbing him with a butcher knife, but then again, she probably would have never seen Travis attacking her friend. Once, she had mulled over the scene, clearly in despair by the incident as she explained, “I had to get a shovel, then a knife to get Travis off Charlie. It was very difficult to do this, but I had to save my friend. I am so sorry for what happened to Charlie. She is my dear friend” (New York Post).
The event had begun after Herold had fed Travis a tasty dinner and dessert. Then, for an unknown reason, Travis grew anxious, standoffish, and finally, he went outside. His owner tried luring him back into the house with tea drugged with Xanax, but to no avail. When that didn’t work, Herold called her friend and employee, Charla Nash, to come over and help.
Herold explained, “When she came out of her car that she doesn’t normally drive, I don’t think Travis recognized her. She was greeting him with a teddy bear, and that’s when he went wild” (New York Post).
The police arrived and were able to shoot Travis as he was coming after them. Eventually he wandered off, fatally wounded, and later died.
Exotic animals should never be kept as pets. The truth is, a wild animal is always wild. One can’t just expect a bear to become nice and friendly if it’s raised by a human. The bear is still carrying wild instincts built into it after many generations. This is obviously seen in the tragic story of Travis, who was said to be friendly and tame. In fact, he even participated in human activities like using the computer and drinking whine. But, obviously as this terrifying ordeal reveals, there was more to him than just a pet chimp. Aside from Nash’s incident, there were other occurrences in which Travis’s wild instincts had kicked in. Don Mecca, A friend of both the ladies had remarked about Travis’s tantrums, and that “He attacked people quite a few times.”
So can a wild animal be raised with a human and never attack? It happens, but it’s rare. Someone can look at a dog and make the argument about how they had come from wild wolves. But there’s no denying that today’s modern pooch has had generations upon generations of domesticated breeding going on. That is not the same with a bear, or a lion, or in this case, a chimpanzee.
It was unknown what caused Travis’s attacks. Because Herold couldn’t speak chimp, and he couldn’t speak English, there was really no way to find out what was going through his mind. As a 200 pound creature, and with a big communication gap going on between human and animal, a chimpanzee is certainly not something that should be kept as a pet. Animal expert, Jeff Corwin, explains, “These animals don’t make good pets. They’re incredibly powerful, and there are really few legitimate reasons that these creatures should be in captivity. We shouldn’t be keeping them in our homes as pets” (CNN). The strange thing about this is that according to CNN, there are only twenty-one states that actually ban chimpanzees as becoming house pets.
After the attacks, Nash went through surgery at Stamford Hospital where they worked on her face and hands. Just a few months ago, she was evaluated for a face transplant, which will be the fourth one in the world.
Last May, Sandra Herold had passed away at the age of 72. Her death was caused by a ruptured aortic aneurysm. Robert Golger, Herold’s lawyer, wrote, “Ms. Herold had suffered a series of heartbreaking losses over the last several years, beginning with the death of her only child, then her husband, and then her beloved chimp Travis, as well as the tragic maiming of her friend and employee Charla Nash” (ABC News).
We may never know what had happened to Travis to set him off like that. It’s just another unfortunate event that took place, and that would have otherwise not played out had he not been housed with a human.
ABC News: (www.abcnews.go.com)
New York Post: (www.nypost.com)
The Daily Green: (www.thedailygreen.com)