Police: Pet chimpanzee, Travis, attacks woman in Stamford:Hot and Latest News
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Police: Pet chimpanzee, Travis, attacks woman in Stamford

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Travis the chimpanzee attempting to enter a vehicle after attacking a woman in Stamford Ct.

Travis the chimpanzee attempting to enter a vehicle after attacking a woman in Stamford Ct.
Escaped chimpanzee Travis is coaxed into a waiting sport utility vehicle in downtown Stamford, Conn. in 2003. O’Rourke/AP/AP

Escaped chimpanzee Travis is coaxed into a waiting sport utility vehicle in downtown Stamford, Conn. in 2003.

A teenage ape raised like a human went berserk in Connecticut Monday, badly mauling a friend of his owner before cops shot and killed him.

Sandy Herold tried to stop the rampage by stabbing her beloved pet chimp, Travis, with a butcher knife, cops said.

“In an effort to stop him, she had to go after her pet of many years,” said Stamford, Conn., police Capt. Rich Conklin.

But Travis, a normally docile 200-pound chimp that starred in a TV commercial for Old Navy cargo shorts and enjoyed human activities like drinking wine and surfing the Internet, could not be stopped.

When cops drove up around 4 p.m., the burly ape tore off a cruiser’s side mirror and opened the door.

The officers had “nowhere to retreat,” Conklin said, and shot him several times.

Bleeding from stab wounds and gunshots, 15-year-old Travis staggered down the driveway and into Herold’s house, where he collapsed and died in a zoolike cage the size of a room.

Conklin said it wasn’t clear what set him off, but theorized Travis’ bout with Lyme disease - which can cause panic attacks, paranoia, personality changes and mood swings in people - could be connected. Travis was taking medication for the disease, Conklin said.

“These actions have not been seen in the chimpanzee before. This animal had been raised as a member of the family,” Conklin said.

Conklin said Travis pounced on the victim, 55-year-old Charla Nash, as soon as she got out of her car to try to help Herold get the ape back in his cage.

He said Travis had been roaming in the yard after getting his hands on the house keys and freeing himself.

Herold, 70, had given the pyscho simian tea with Xanax to calm him down just before Nash arrived, cops said, and called 911 as the chimp mauled her friend.

A 911 dispatcher could hear the animal screaming in the background as he ripped into the victim.

Nash was in very critical condition at Stamford Hospital Monday night. She suffered serious facial injuries and may not survive, Conklin said. Her brother Steve Nash was rushing up from Virginia.

Herold told cops that Travis may not have recognized Charla Nash because she wore her normally long, flowing hair up Monday.

Herold and her husband, Jerome, who treated Travis almost like a child after the death of their daughter more than a decade ago, were distraught.

Conklin said the couple had owned Travis for close to 14 years.

Sandy Herold was taken to the hospital and treated for shock. Two cops were treated for minor injuries.

Neighbor Anthony Macary, 49, was flabbergasted that Travis had turned violent.

“He was a very friendly monkey. He was like a nephew,” Macary said.

Herold’s friend Lynn Mecca said Travis had known Charla Nash for years.

“I don’t know why he would do that,” she said.

But Mecca’s ex-husband Don Mecca said the ape had a mean streak and often was aggressive. He said he had warned Nash to be careful around Travis. “I told her, ‘Charla, don’t get close to that monkey when he is not in that cage,’” Mecca said.

Nash’s brother Steve said his sister was aware Travis could be moody.

“She knows at times [the chimp] had been a problem,” Steve Nash said. “She knows it wasn’t a healthy situation.”

The celebrity monkey was a media darling, however.

A 2003 feature story in the Stamford Advocate reported he liked to surf the Internet and watched TV with a remote, preferring baseball games if he could find them.

He watered plants, fed hay to the Herolds’ horses, ate at the table with his owners and drank wine from a stemmed glass.

Travis was known to the town cops because they worked with the Herolds’ towing company, Desire Me Towing. He would ride in the trucks, waving.

When the Herolds’ daughter was killed in a car crash, the ape appeared to mourn, holding her photo sadly, they told the paper.

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.”

“Our closest relatives, we would like to think they can be domesticated,” Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy said Monday night. “Unfortunately, this is not always the case.”

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