Earlier this year, Travis, a 15-year-old “pet” chimpanzee, was stabbed repeatedly, pounded with a shovel, and finally shot to death after he attacked a Connecticut woman named Charla Nash. Yesterday, Ms. Nash, who has been in a hospital since the attack, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and spoke for the first time about her recovery. During the show, Nash declared her readiness to move on and said that she had an optimistic outlook on the future.
The images of Nash are shocking, her buoyant hopefulness is inspiring, and both of those points should prompt another look at Travis’ trajectory from his days as a baby chimpanzee to his years as a confined adult “pet.” Travis, who appeared in several commercials when he was an infant, was just one of many exotic animals who have been torn away from their mothers at a young age in order to be raised by people who don’t fully understand their needs.
Once chimpanzees reach adolescence, they become too strong and aggressive for their guardians to handle. They are then often abandoned at roadside zoos or—as was the case with Travis—stay in the home of a person who remains unaware of their tremendous strength until it’s too late.
Chimpanzees and other exotic animals were never meant to be confined to people’s homes, and keeping them as “pets” can often be lethal to both the animals and those who live near them.
Written by Logan Scherer