Did the chimp have a rap sheet?

February 19, 2009 7:43:52 AM PST
The same 200-pound chimp who was fatally shot this week after a vicious attack on his owner's friend also bit a woman in 1996, the woman said in an interview broadcast Thursday.

The woman, Leslie Mostel-Paul, said Travis the chimp bit her hand and tried to pull her into a vehicle as she greeted him. She said she complained to the chimp's owner and to police.

Travis was killed Monday after severely wounding his owner's friend, 55-year-old Charla Nash. Nash remained hospitalized Thursday with critical injuries to her face and hands.

"I honestly believe if they had followed through, maybe the laws would have been changed sooner and this other woman wouldn't be in the hospital, fighting for her life now," said Mostel-Paul, a former Stamford resident who lives in Atlanta.

Owner Sandra Herold, who raised the chimpanzee from its infancy, has said he was a loving pet whose behavior Monday was completely out of character.

Herold speculated that Travis was being protective of her when he attacked Nash, who she said was driving a different car, wearing a new hairstyle and holding an Elmo stuffed toy in front of her face as a present to the chimp.

Meanwhile, an animal control officer, Lynn DellaBianco, said she warned Herold in 2003 after Travis escaped Herold's vehicle and frolicked in downtown Stamford traffic for a few hours. DellaBianco, who ran Stamford's animal shelter at the time, told "Today" she warned Herold that the pet's mischievous behavior was worrisome.

"I did express concern that obviously this could turn into something worse if he really decided to start getting angry and do something," DellaBianco said.

Authorities have not said whether Herold will face criminal charges. State law allowed her to own the 14-year-old chimp as a pet, though several state leaders are calling for tighter restrictions in the wake of the latest attack.

Doctors at Stamford Hospital said Wednesday that it took four teams of surgeons more than seven hours to stabilize Nash. Hand specialists, plastic surgeons and specialists in orthopedics, ophthalmology and trauma have treated Nash, who has made slight progress but remained in critical condition, Dr. Kevin Miller said.

Herold's voice was filled with fear and horror in 911 tapes released by police Tuesday night.

Travis can be heard grunting as she cries for help: "He's killing my friend!"

The dispatcher says, "Who's killing your friend?"

Herold replies, "My chimpanzee! He ripped her apart! Shoot him, shoot him!"

After police arrived, one officer radioed back: "There's a man down. He doesn't look good," he says, referring to the disfigured Nash. "We've got to get this guy out of here. He's got no face."

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