Darwin’s Revenge

Travis the Chimpanzee shortly before being shot by police during a, probably justifiable, rampage.

Travis the Chimpanzee shortly before being shot by police during a, probably justifiable, rampage.

If you’re anything like me you listen to NPR almost constantly, and therefore spent a lot of last week hearing about Charle Darwin’s 200th birthday. You probably have also seen “Orangutan Island” and thought to yourself, “These apes are evolving and learning to use more sophisticated tools, and will soon be giant, red-headed people with super-strength.” Put these two things together, and you probably won’t be at all surprised to hear a Chimpanzee raised by people in Stamford went berserk this week, and died after being stabbed with a butcher knife and shot.

I don’t have much sympathy for anyone who keeps a wild animal in their home. I don’t even like to see birds being kept in cages, but when you start keeping something as intelligent as a Chimpanzee in a cage, in your home, and do things like drink wine and surf the internet with it, I figure you get what’s coming to you when it goes nuts and tries to kill you. Unfortunately, Travis — the Chimp in question — mauled a house guest and not the people who forced him into a completely unnatural life for 14 years.

Travis was apparently struggling with Lyme Disease which can cause all sorts of problems with paranoia, and panic attacks, but descriptions of the event sound a bit like a coke-fueled rage. And if the Chimp was drinking wine, who is to say he doesn’t have other substance abuse problems? Apparently, Travis’s family treated him like “their child” after losing their actual child about 10-years ago — and like many parents they seem to have dismissed other bad behavior. And on the day in question, even tried to dose him with Xanax laced tea.

In October 2003, the chimp made headlines when he jumped out of his owners’ SUV and commandeered a major intersection, holding cops at bay for two hours.

Travis had been in the vehicle when it stopped at a light, and someone in the next vehicle threw something at him, hitting him through an open window.

He unbuckled his seat belt and jumped out of the vehicle, wanting to play.

Cops arrived in a dozen cruisers but could not corral Travis, who was capering in the street, occasionally rolling on his back and charging at officers.

Officers, who had no tranquilizer gun, tried using cookies, macadamia nuts and ice cream to lure Travis into a cruiser. Nothing worked until he tired and got back into the Herolds’ SUV.

No charges were filed in that case. It is not illegal to own an exotic pet in Connecticut.

“That was more mischievous than vicious,” Conklin said. “It became something of a legend.”

Travis was also something of a celebrity in his younger days.

He co-starred with Morgan Fairchild in an Old Navy ad, filmed a TV pilot and appeared on “The Maury Povich Show.”

I’d be pissed if I was forced to hand out with Morgan Fairchild and Maury Povich, too. Especially if I was meant to be foraging for nuts and berries rather than sitting in a suburban Stamford home, being carted around by a soccer mom.

In conclusion, I’d like to say something to Dick Blumenthal: I think you might want to forget about Ticketmaster and do something about the whackos keeping dangerous wild animals in their homes, instead!

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