Chimp shot after mauling US woman

17 February 2009 General News

A pet chimpanzee in the US has been shot dead by a police officer after mauling a woman visiting its owner.

The 200lb (90kg) ape, who had appeared on TV commercials, attacked the woman as she got out of her car to visit its owner in Stamford, Connecticut.

The woman suffered "serious blood loss" from facial injuries and was in a "very serious" condition in hospital.

The animal, Travis, also injured two police officers before being shot dead as it tried to enter a police vehicle.

'Like a child'

Police said they had no idea why the chimp, who was 15, had attacked his owner's friend, though police told the Associated Press (AP) he had been ill with Lyme disease and had been on medication.

The animal had been trained to ride in the family's vehicles, had appeared on commercials for Coca-Cola and Old Navy and had also appeared in a television pilot.

"He's been raised almost like a child by this family. He rides in a car every day, he opens doors, he's a very unique animal in that aspect. We have no indication of what provoked this behaviour at all," Stamford Police captain Richard Conklin was quoted as saying by AP.

Owner Sandra Herold had wrestled with Travis in an effort to stop the attack on her friend, then ran inside to make an emergency call.

"She retrieved a large butcher knife and stabbed her longtime pet numerous times in an effort to save her friend, who was really being brutally attacked," Conklin was quoted as saying.

Paramedics then arrived to treat the woman, with police officers protecting them, but the chimp then started attacking them, AP reported. One officer was cornered in his vehicle and shot Travis in self-defence.

The animal returned to its owner's house, where it was later found dead.

Travis had escaped from a car before in 2003, and had spent two hours at large in Stamford.

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