The recent, savage attack by “Travis”, the chimp, has drawn the attention of the national press. See our prior post on this animal attack here.
Travis horribly mauled and multilated a neighbor and friend of this owner. On the 911 tapes the owner was cowering in fear for her life, and she thought that her pet killed her friend. She pleaded with the police to come and shoot the animal.
At first it seemed that Travis had no prior history of violence, but today’s New York Post reports that a town resident was bitten by the chimp. She complained to the police, and the police did nothing.
I believe that in view of this horrible incident police will crack-down on exotic pet and wild animal ownership. I also believe that municipal governments will seek orders to remove wild animals from their owners in the event of a attack no matter how minor.
There was also some indication in the Post article that the owner treated the ape as both a son and husband in sharing living arrangements, meals, baths, glasses of wine, etc. It seems that if abnormal conduct is reported to the police in the future, the police will take steps to remove the dangerous animal on the ground that the owner does not have the mental capacity to manage the animal. Apparently, the owner did not take adequate precautions, and it is likely that the chimpanzee acted-up on prior occasions, but the owner either covered-up or accepted it.
In the event that the municipality fails to act on either a complaint of violence or a complaint of abnormal behavior by the owner, the municipal government may be liable for damages. In a case such as this one, where the victim was horribly and permanently disfigured and dismembered, the animal owner’s insurance may not be enough to cover the damages, and the victim will look to a deeper pocket, i.e., the municipality which failed to remove the wild beast.
Incidentally, it is well known that chimpanzees can be very savage and violent. In 2005 a Californian man was savagely attacked by chimps when he visited his chimpanzee in a primate sanctuary. The victim had been ordered to give-up his chimp to the shelter after his chimp bit-off part of a woman’s finger; the chimp had bitten other people including a policeman. When the man and his wife visited the chimp at the sanctuary, two other chimps escaped and brutally disfigured, dismembered, and multilated the man in the same manner as the Connecticut woman a few days ago. See excellent Esquire story here.
If you have been injured by a wild animal attack, please call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1543.
Mark E. Seitelman, 2/19/09, www.seitelman.com.