We prefer to keep things focused on the positive and love sharing the daily lives of the chimpanzees at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. But the fact is that it is a shame our sanctuary has to exist at all. The Cle Elum Seven never should have been used in research or entertainment. Chimpanzees simply do not belong in biomedical research, entertainment or in people’s homes as pets. Period. And yesterday there was evidence for some of the reasons why this is true.
On Monday afternoon in Stamford, Connecticut a 15 year old chimpanzee “pet” named Travis attacked a woman he had known for years, leaving her in critical condition. When the police arrived at the scene, they fatally shot Travis. There are now numerous stories with greater detail about this incident all over the news, including NBC.
Travis was bred in captivity to be used by humans. He reportedly appeared in commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola. His owners drove him around town. And this was not the first time the authorities of Stamford had to be called in to try to contain him.
For those of us who care for chimpanzees, it is difficult not to be angry about this incident. We know that chimpanzees should not be kept as pets – we’ve seen tragedies like this before. We know that chimpanzees should only be kept in secure enclosures. We know that chimpanzees in entertainment are usually discarded after a few years because they become too difficult to “handle.” And we know that chimpanzees are intelligent, social, amazing, and, yes, sometimes violent beings.
There should be laws in place in every state banning the keeping of chimpanzees as pets. Hollywood by choice or by being forced through legislation should never use a chimpanzee in entertainment again. Our hope is that this tragedy will create action to make these things happen, and we will do our part to help.