[monkeywire] Monkey Business Causes Chaos In Stamford

Andrew Hund axh69 at po.cwru.edu
Tue Oct 21 08:00:55 EDT 2003


STAMFORD, Conn., 7:01 p.m. EDT October 20, 2003 - Travis, a 170-pound
chimpanzee, can do lots of things humans do. He waters the flowers, enjoys a
glass of wine, brushes his teeth and even watches baseball on television.

But one thing Travis apparently has not mastered is sensing the best time
for play time.
The diaper-wearing chimp bolted from a sport utility vehicle driven by his
owners Sunday night, commandeered an intersection in the heart of this busy
Fairfield County city and held police at bay for a few hours.

Despite the efforts of officers, who arrived in more than a dozen cruisers,
the chimp continued playing in the middle of the street, rolling on his back
and occasionally charging officers.

"He just wanted to play, but it wasn't the time or place," Sandy Herold, who
owns Travis with her husband, Jerry, said Monday.

The chimp, when not closing doors on squad cars to prevent being trapped
inside, made occasional runs toward the crowd on all fours.

"He's very strong," Sgt. Richard Phelan said.

By 11:20 p.m. police had succeeded in getting the chimp into its owners'
car. Officers pressed their hands against the doors of the SUV to hold the
chimp inside.

Travis, who is nine years old, was sleeping it off Monday.

"He got up and had breakfast and went back to bed. He's tired," Herold said.

Travis and his owners will not face charges, police said.

"There is no enforcement action planned," said Assistant Chief Frank Lagan.
"It's the first time it got loose."

A new law requires new owners of such animals to have permits, but does not
apply retroactively, according to David Leff, deputy commissioner of the
state Department of Environmental Protection.

Lynn DellaBianca, the city's animal control officer, said she plans to
contact the owners and advise them to take more precautions.

"I don't think it's a good idea to be driving around with a chimpanzee in
your car that can easily escape," DellaBianca said. "An animal like this
could easily kill a human."

Lagan and Herold said Travis became agitated when someone threw something at
the car, perhaps a paper cup.

"When this guy threw this, that's what he thought, that it was part of his
play time," Herold said.

Travis is playful and not mean, Herold said. She described the chimp as
almost human and said Travis even mourned when Herold's daughter was killed
in a car accident a few years ago.

"He would take her picture and hold it," she said. "If I cry he'll lick my

Travis runs his own bath water and prefers ice cream, wine from a
tall-stemmed glass and filet mignon over bananas.

"He likes them, but he's not crazy about them," Herold said, acknowledging
Travis could stand to lose a few pounds.

Travis also feeds hay to the horses near his house in a more rural part of
Stamford. He used to root for the New York Mets when Stamford native Bobby
Valentine was the manager, but now he roots for the Yankees.

"He loves baseball. He likes anything with action," Herold said.

Travis will now travel in a more secure van, Herold said. Gone are the glory
days when he would ride in his owner's restored Corvettes.

"He would wave to people coming down Summer Street," Herold said. "They were
like his cars."

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