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When Good Animals Go Bad

with 2 comments

I’m sure by now, you’ve all hear the story about the chimp who went nutsy and attacked its owners friend, basically ripping her face off and leaving her in serious condition. 

I’m not so much planning to write about what happened as to write about the media handling of the story after the fact. It seems that the desire to make stories more and more salacious is what drives most reporters these days. 

I know there are plenty of things, people, events, situations which are plenty “weird” enough in and of themselves, and yes, the details often intrigue me as much as the headline of a National Enquirer while I’m standing at the counter, waiting for checkout. It’s the same thing that makes us glance over at car wrecks… most of us are drawn toward the bizarre, the off-kilter. And the media knows this and exploit it at every turn.

So what I’m getting at here is the way they’ve portrayed this chimp’s owner. I will be the first to admit that I have no idea what has gone on with this woman and Travis (the chimp). There may well have been something that was an intimacy there that was “beyond” what most people would feel comfortable with. But you know what? Most of my friends consider their pets their “babies,” or  their “kids.” People who don’t understand that would think that WE are experiencing a “beyond normal” relationship with our pets.

Let’s look at the facts: This woman has had Travis since he was a baby. Any pet we’ve had for a long time, we start to know their ways, their moods, their sounds, etc., just like they know ours. We think we see and understand meaningful facial expressions in our cats and dogs; we think they’re trying to tell us something; we think they understand the things we say to them; we think they have similar feelings to ours…. with a chimp, this can be multiplied many times over, because they ARE so close to us as primates.

How fun would it be to have a cat sit down and watch a cable show with you? Or have your dog sit down and enjoy a glass of tea with you? I can only imagine the companionship this chimp has provided for this woman after the loss of her husband and daughter.

The news makes a big deal out of the fact that she fed him steak and lobster. What if it was as innocent as when I give steak and fish scraps to my pets? Yes, the fact that she slept with a male ape is a creepy IF something sexual was going on, but I sleep with my cats, Kimmy sleeps with her dogs, even spoons with them. Is that weird? To some yes, to others no. Is it sexual? Absolutely not!!

And even in the 911 call, the panic in the woman’s voice, shows that the concern is for her friend, not for Travis. The fact that she stabbed her beloved pet and hit him with a shovel, shows that her primary concern was saving her friend from the attack. Granted, she should have not had a wild animal as a pet, but once you’ve had a manageable little, young animal, it’s hard to let go when it’s crossed the line into an unmanageable big animal.

Anyway, I just feel badly for everyone involved… the friend who was attacked…if she survives, she will never be the same obviously. The owner of the chimp… who had to hurt and see killed a beloved pet and who has obviously lost a human friend as well (more than likely, there will be a big lawsuit). Travis himself… he was just doing what chimps do, and he paid the price for being put in an environment where he never belonged. Just a sad story all around.


Written by blogicalinks

February 21, 2009 at 11:14 am

Posted in Whatever

2 Responses

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  1. I have not heard that story. What an awful event. I totally understand about loving your animals as if they were your very own. Unfortunately these kinds of stories prove that in the end, they are animals. You just hope that you have raised/trained them to be as socialized and mannered as possible, but regardless, you will always love them. I hope the best for everyone involved, chimp included.


    February 21, 2009 at 5:39 pm

  2. This is an awful story, but I have to admit that my first thought when I heard it was how horrible it must feel to lose a pet like that. And worse, to have some of the damage come from her own hand. I can’t imagine ever having to hurt Simba no matter what she did. It makes me think of how people who have a dog that bites some one, gets hauled off to animal control and put down. And no matter how much they protest, say they’ll keep the animal locked up in the house, etc. they can’t do anything to change the decision.

    The part about the friend is really terrible too and I know NO ONE involved will ever get over this event.


    February 25, 2009 at 11:58 am

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