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Woman's life in danger after chimp attack

  • Story Highlights
  • A woman is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries to her face, neck and hands
  • Caretaker tries to pull chimp off, calls 911 and stabs the chimp
  • Police shoot the chimp when he rips off a side mirror, tries to enter police cruiser
  • Same chimp escaped in 2003 and "wreaked havoc" in Stamford, Connecticut
  • Next Article in U.S. »
By Stephanie Gallman
CNN
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(CNN) -- A woman has been hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a pet chimpanzee attacked her at a friend's home in Stamford, Connecticut, police said.

When the chimp ripped off a side mirror and tried to enter a police cruiser, officers shot the animal multiple times.

Travis is shown in 2003, when he escaped and "wreaked havoc" on the streets of Stamford, Connecticut.

Charla Nash, 55, had just arrived at her friend Sandra Herold's house when the chimp, named Travis, jumped on her and began biting and mauling her, causing serious injuries to her face, neck and hands, according to Stamford Police Capt. Rich Conklin, who said the attack was unprovoked.

Herold had called Nash to her house to help get 14-year-old Travis back inside after he used a key to escape.

While her friend was being attacked, Herold tried to pull the primate off her, but was unsuccessful.

She then called 911 before stabbing the chimp with butcher knife and hitting him with a shovel. Neither fazed Travis, who police said was like a child to Herold.

Stamford police later shot the chimp multiple times after he attacked an officer inside a police cruiser, Conklin said.

Travis returned to the house, where police later found him dead. Conklin estimated that Travis weighed close to 200 pounds.

The police captain also said this isn't the first interaction his officers have had with Travis; the chimp escaped in 2003 and "wreaked havoc" on the streets of Stamford for a couple of hours. Video Watch video of Travis from 2003 »

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In 2005, a different chimp escaped from California's Animal Haven Ranch and chewed off a man's nose and genitals.

During an interview after that attack, wildlife expert Jeff Corwin told CNN's Anderson Cooper that chimpanzees are "absolutely powerful." Video Watch Corwin explain why chimps don't make good pets »

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"It's often said that an adult chimpanzee weighing in at 150 pounds is three to seven times stronger than a human being," Corwin said.

"The thing about chimpanzees is, we sort of look at them through our rose-colored cultural glasses of the cute little chimp in the 'Tarzan' movie. Those are very young chimps. Chimps grow up, they become very powerful. They are very complex in their behavior. They have a whole range of emotions, including violence and anger."

All About StamfordJeff Corwin

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