If you think chimpanzees are cute little hairy quasi-humans, you are right. But they are also cute little hairy quasi-humans that will bite your nose and fingers off (literally) if given half a chance.
Travis, the adorable fellow above, was a TV-commercial star who appeared in ads for Old Navy and Coca-Cola. He lived in the Connecticut home of his owner, Sandra Herold. But yesterday, he was shot by a police officer defending himself after the chimpanzee mauled Charla Nash, a friend of Herold.
An upcoming issue of Esquire recounts a chimpanzee attack that is equally harrowing — perhaps more so, because of the victims' devotion to raising a chimpanzee as a child. (Warning: The article's third page has a photo that is not for the squeamish.)
St. James and LaDonna Davis kept Moe, a chimpanzee St. James says he rescued in Tanzania, for decades in their West Covina home, until he bit a woman in 1998 and was taken away by officials to a wildlife sanctuary. When visiting Moe in that sanctuary, the Davises were viciously attacked by other chimpanzees. One bit off LaDonna's thumb. But St. James had the most horrifying injuries:
St. James, sixty-six, a former high school football star and onetime Nascar driver, is severely disabled and disfigured. There's a two-inch hole in the heel of his swollen left foot, and he is confined to a wheelchair. He has no nose, only a red, raw, exposed septum, surrounded by narrow openings. At the top are three tiny magnets designed to hold in place a crude silicone prosthesis, which is constantly falling off. His right eye is gone, replaced with glass. The skin on his face droops like candle wax because so many bones around his cheeks and eyes were broken. His mouth, which has been completely reconstructed, is stuck in a frown. On his left hand, his index, middle, and ring fingers are stumps. His right hand is much worse. He has a misshapen hunk of flesh for a thumb, which appears as if it were lumped onto his wrist with clay. His index and middle fingers are gone; his ring finger and pinkie are immobile.
Just Google "chimp attacks" and you'll find countless other gruesome examples. Can we all agree to leave chimpanzees in their habitats now?
(Photo of Travis by Kathleen O'Rourke/AP; photo of Moe and the Davises by Getty Images