Chimp escapes Las Vegas backyard _ again
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A chimpanzee who rampaged through a Las Vegas neighborhood last month made a second escape from her backyard enclosure this weekend, but her caretaker thinks she had human help this time.
Timmi De Rosa says the 13-year-old chimp, CJ, didn't get loose Saturday by bending steel bars without help. She thinks someone let CJ out of her cage. De Rosa says the 180-pound animal was captured quickly and was never a threat to neighbors.
The chimp was turned over to an animal entertainer for safekeeping before going to a sanctuary in Oregon.
On July 12, CJ and her mate Buddy broke free and roamed the neighborhood, pounding on vehicles and climbing in an unoccupied car. An officer shot and killed Buddy when the animal frightened bystanders.
Buddy was the more aggressive male companion and "worked 24/7 trying to break out" of his enclosure — he finally busted through a pair of double gates, De Rosa said.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector that visited the chimps' enclosure after the first escape cited a number of "noncompliance" issues, according to a July 17 report obtained by The Associated Press.
Inspectors said the joint between a block wall and a metal gate had been damaged, and that a secondary gate around the main enclosure wasn't locked at the time of the escape.
The chimps escaped just hours before a welder was scheduled to fix gate hinges, De Rosa said.
De Rosa said CJ was never motivated to break out of the enclosure, and she doesn't think she did it without help.
However, her fiancé and the chimps' other caretaker, Lee Watkinson, said CJ was capable of bending and breaking steel bars if she wanted.
"You have no idea how strong a chimpanzee is," he said.
The Human Society says the incident underscores Nevada's lack of rules on keeping exotic pets.
"The same chimpanzee escaping twice in less than a month underscores that large, powerful exotic animals should not be kept as pets. Nevada is one of just six states with no rules on the private ownership of dangerous wild animals, and it's a free-for-all that puts people and animals at risk," said Holly Haley, the Humane Society's Nevada state director.