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Biologist voiced chimp concerns

BY THE ASSOCIATED PERSS Published: March 21, 2009
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HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut biologist warned state officials nearly five months ago that a 200-pound chimpanzee who mauled a woman last month could seriously hurt someone if he felt threatened, according to a memo released to state lawmakers Friday.

The biologist also said the chimp’s owner violated state law, and ended her note with the prophetic warning: "It is an accident waiting to happen.”

The document was written on Oct. 28 by an unnamed Department of Environmental Protection biologist.

It was discovered in an ongoing internal agency review prompted by the mauling incident.

"The animal has reached adult maturity, is very large, and tremendously strong,” the memo says. "I am concerned that if he feels threatened or if someone enters his territory, he could seriously hurt someone.”

The biologist said it was unclear whether the chimp’s enclosure was strong enough to secure the animal named Travis, owned by Sandra Herold of Stamford and kept at her home.

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Charla Nash was critically injured Feb. 16 when she was attacked by the 200-pound chimp.

Nash’s attorneys say the 55-year-old woman lost her hands, nose, lips and eyelids and may be blind and suffering brain damage after the attack.

Earlier this week, Nash’s family filed a lawsuit against the chimp’s owner, Sandra Herold, accusing her of negligence. The suit seeks $50 million in damages.

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