A birthday party for an orphaned chimpanzee sparked a mauling of two visitors by escaped apes at an animal sanctuary outside Bakersfield, Calif.
KGET-TV reports St. James Davis and his wife, LaDonna Davis, had brought a cake for Moe, a chimpanzee the couple rescued from Africa after a poacher killed his mother. The Bakersfield Californian reports the Davis’ kept Moe at their home for more than 30 years before it was removed after biting off a woman’s finger.
Somehow, two other male chimps named Buddy and Ollie escaped their separate steel-bar cages and lunged at Davis.
“Everybody was trying to get the chimp off,” Mark Carruthers, the son-in-law of the owners of Buddy and Ollie, told the paper. “(Davis’) face was literally ripped off.”
Carruthers grabbed his .45-caliber handgun and killed the offending apes.
The gunshots and shouting reportedly spooked two other escaped apes who had not joined in the attack. They were recaptured several hours later two miles from the sanctuary following a hunt by sheriff’s deputies, animal control workers, and officials from the California Department of Fish and Game.
Dr. Maureen Martin, of Kern Medical Center, told the television station the monkeys chewed most of Davis’ face off. He was transported to Loma Linda Medical Center University where he’ll undergo extensive surgery to reattach his nose and reconstruct his eye. Kern County sheriff’s Cmdr. Hal Chealander told the newspaper Davis’ foot was gnawed off during the attack and he also suffered a severe groin injury.
Davis’ wife got bitten on the hand while attempting to help her husband fend off the animals.
Authorities are investigating how the chimpanzees got loose.
Typically, when a chimp gets out of its cage, it’s because someone didn’t close or lock a gate, Martine Colette, animal services director at Wildlife WayStation in Southern California, told the paper.
Chimps can weigh up to 200 pounds and are five times stronger than humans.
“They’re cute little things, but they grow and they get big,” commented Pam Stewart, a friend of the chimpsanzees’ owners.