|Born||October 21, 1995|
Festus, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||February 16, 2009 (aged 13)|
Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.
|Notable role||Pet, animal actor|
|Known for||Attack on Charla Nash|
|Owner||Jerome Herold (died 2003) |
Sandra Herold (died 2010)
|Parent(s)||Suzy (mother) (died 2001)|
|Weight||200 lb (91 kg)|
Travis (October 21, 1995 – February 16, 2009) was a male common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) who attacked and nearly killed a woman in North Stamford, Connecticut. In February 2009, Travis and his owner Sandra Herold gained international notoriety after he suddenly attacked Herold's friend Charla Nash and grievously mauled her, blinding her while severing her nose, ears, and both hands, and severely lacerating her face. He was subsequently shot dead upon the arrival of the police after he tried to attack an officer.
As an animal actor, Travis had appeared in several television shows and commercials, including spots for Pepsi and Old Navy. He had also appeared on The Maury Povich Show, The Man Show, and a television pilot that featured Sheryl Crow and Michael Moore.[dubious ]
Travis was born near Festus, Missouri, on October 21, 1995, at Mike and Connie Braun Casey's compound, currently named the Missouri Chimpanzee Sanctuary. In a separate incident, Travis' mother Suzy was fatally shot following an escape in 2001. Sandra and Jerome Herold adopted Travis when he was three days old. They named the chimp for Sandra's favorite singer, Travis Tritt. The Herolds raised Travis at their home at Rock Rimmon Road in the North Stamford section of Stamford, Connecticut. Travis was the Herolds' constant companion and would often accompany them to work and on their shopping excursions in town. The Herolds owned a towing company, and Travis would pose for photos at the shop and ride with the tow truck, his seatbelt buckled as he wore a baseball shirt. Travis became well known in the town and had been known to greet police officers they would encounter when towing cars.
Having grown up among people, Travis had been socialized to humans since birth. A neighbor said he used to play around and wrestle with Travis. He added the animal always knew when to stop and paid close attention to its owner. "He listened better than my nephews," the neighbor remarked after Travis had mauled Nash. "I just don't know why he would do that."
Travis could open doors using keys, dress himself, water plants, feed hay to his owners' horses, eat at a table with the rest of the family, and drink wine from a stemmed glass; he was so fond of ice cream that he learned the schedules of passing ice cream trucks. He logged onto the computer to look at pictures, watched television using a remote control, and brushed his teeth using a Water Pik. He enjoyed watching baseball on television. Travis had also driven a car on several occasions.
Jerome died from cancer in 2004, and the Herolds' only child died in a car accident; as a result, Sandra Herold regarded Travis almost as a surrogate son and pampered him. Sandra slept and bathed with Travis, saying, "I'm, like, hollow now. He slept with me every night. Until you've eaten with a chimp and bathed with a chimp, you don't know a chimp."
The 2009 incident became an international news story. Shortly after the attack, a woman who had lived in the same area as Herold came forward with information that back in 1996 the chimpanzee had bitten her hand and tried to pull her into a vehicle as she greeted him. She claimed to have complained to the Herolds and to police, who stated they had no record of any such complaint.
In October 2003, Travis escaped from the Herolds' car and held up traffic at a busy intersection, and was on the loose for several hours. The incident began after a pedestrian threw something at the car that went through a partially open window and struck Travis while they were stopped at a traffic light. Startled, Travis unbuckled his seat belt, opened the car door and chased the man, but did not catch him. When police arrived, they lured the chimpanzee into the car several times only to have Travis let himself out of another door and occasionally chase the officers around the car. The 2003 incident led to the passing of a Connecticut law prohibiting people from keeping primates weighing more than 50 pounds (23 kg) as pets and requiring owners of exotic pets to apply for permits. The new law took effect in 2004, and as of Travis's death in 2009, no one in the state had applied to adopt a chimpanzee. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) did not enforce the law on the Herolds because they had owned 200-pound (91 kg) Travis for so long and the DEP did not believe Travis posed a public safety risk.
On February 16, 2009, at around 3:40 p.m., Travis attacked Sandra Herold's 55-year-old friend Charla Nash, inflicting devastating injuries to her face and limbs. Travis had left the house with Sandra Herold's car keys, and Nash came to help get the chimp back in the house; upon seeing Nash holding a Tickle Me Elmo—one of his favorite toys—Travis immediately attacked her. Travis was familiar with Nash, who had also worked at the Herolds' towing company, although Nash had a different hairstyle at the time of the attack, which may have confused and alarmed the chimp. The chimp had been taking medication for Lyme disease. Herold, then 70 years old, attempted to stop Travis by hitting him with a shovel and stabbing him with a butcher knife. "For me to do something like that – put a knife in him – was like putting one in myself," Herold later said. The chimp turned around, she said, as if to say, "'Mom, what did you do?'" The animal grew angrier. Herold then called 9-1-1 and pleaded for help. Travis' screams can be heard in the background of the tape as Sandra pleaded for police, who initially believed the call to be a hoax, until she started screaming, "He's eating her!" Emergency medical services waited for police before approaching the house. Travis walked up to the police car when it arrived, tried to open a locked passenger door, and smashed a side-view mirror. Then he went calmly around to the driver's-side door and opened it, at which point Officer Frank Chiafari shot him several times. Travis retreated to the house, where he was found dead next to his cage.
The emergency crew described Nash's injuries as "horrendous." Within the following 72 hours, Nash underwent more than seven hours of surgery on her face and hands by four teams of surgeons. The hospital provided counseling to its staff members who initially treated her because of the extraordinary nature of Nash's wounds. Paramedics noted she lost her hands, nose, eyes, lips, and mid-face bone structure, and received significant brain tissue injuries. Doctors reattached her jaw, but announced on April 7, 2009, that Nash would be blind for life. Her injuries made her a possible candidate for an experimental face transplant surgery. After initial treatment at Stamford Hospital, Nash was transferred to the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Her family started a trust fund to raise money to pay her "unfathomable" medical bills and support her daughter. Nash revealed her damaged face in public for the first time on The Oprah Winfrey Show on November 11, 2009. She was not at that time in physical pain from the attack, and family members said she hoped to leave the Cleveland Clinic soon. Pictures have surfaced on the Internet displaying Nash's face before and after the attack.
In June 2011, Nash underwent transplant surgery performed by a team led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahač at the Harvard teaching affiliate, Brigham and Women's Hospital, receiving a donated face and hands. The hands transplant was initially successful, but because Nash developed pneumonia shortly thereafter, doctors were forced to remove her newly transplanted hands due to the infection and resulting poor circulation.
In accordance with standard procedure, Travis' head was taken to the state laboratory for a rabies test, and the body was taken to the University of Connecticut for a necropsy. The head tested negative for rabies, but there was Xanax (Alprazolam) remaining in his system. Necropsy results in May 2009 confirmed the chimp was overweight and had been stabbed. The remains were cremated at All Pets Crematory in Stamford on February 25, 2009.
Toxicology reports confirmed Sandra's statement that she had given Travis Xanax-laced tea the day of the attack, which could have exacerbated his aggression. Xanax is a short-acting, potent anti-anxiety drug that can cause disinhibition and disorientation and occasionally paradoxical reactions of hallucination, aggression, rage and mania.
In March 2009, an attorney for Charla Nash's family filed a $50 million lawsuit against Sandra Herold. On May 6, a Stamford judge froze Herold's assets, valued at US$10 million. Other potential defendants included the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, the city of Stamford, and the veterinarian who prescribed the Xanax. The defense claimed the chimp had no violent behavior before the attack, and the two accusations in the 1990s attacks were untrue because the chimp had no teeth at the time.
On May 25, 2010, 15 months after the attack, the Associated Press reported that Sandra Herold had died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm at the age of 72. Her attorney, Robert Golger, released the following statement: "Ms. Herold had suffered a series of heartbreaking losses over the last several years, beginning with the death of her daughter who was killed in a car accident, then her husband, then her beloved chimp Travis, as well as the tragic maiming of friend and employee Charla Nash. In the end, her heart, which had been broken so many times before, could take no more."
In November 2012, Nash reached a settlement with Herold's estate and received approximately $4 million.
Nash attempted to sue the state of Connecticut in 2013 but her claim was denied. She had asserted that officials knew the animal was dangerous but did nothing about it. Nash's petition to sue was denied on the basis that at the time of the attack, no statute existed that prohibited the private ownership of a chimpanzee. In July 2013, Nash's attorneys began efforts to appeal the court's decision.
Travis' escape and subsequent attack of Charla Nash were used as part of the "Chimps" episode of the Animal Planet 2010-2011 documentary series: Fatal Attractions. Sound from the original 9-1-1 call, radio traffic from the police shooting of Travis, and the aftermath of the hunt were used in the episode.
News reports of the incident spread as far as China. The attack, similar to another chimpanzee attack four years earlier in California, provoked discussion about the logic of keeping such exotic animals as pets by sources such as TIME magazine and primatologists Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal. Afterward, PETA members allegedly harassed Herold, although the organization stated that it did not have any official involvement.
Frank Chiafari—the police officer who fatally shot Travis—was initially unable to get his therapy for depression and anxiety covered after the incident. This led to legislation proposed in 2010 that would cover a police officer's compensation for mental or emotional impairment after he used justifiable deadly force to kill an animal.
Influence on legislation
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal noted that a defect in the existing 2004 Connecticut law prohibiting chimpanzees of Travis' size, itself a result of the 2003 incident, allowed the attack to occur. A Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokesman clarified that Travis was exempt because he did not appear to present a public health risk and was owned before the registration requirement began. Blumenthal subsequently sent letters to legislative leaders and the DEP Commissioner, asking them to support a proposed law that would ban all potentially dangerous exotic animals, such as chimpanzees, crocodiles, and venomous snakes, from being kept in a residential setting in Connecticut. The DEP was seeking a similar law banning large primates and, after the incident, announced that it sought the help of the public, police officers, and animal control officers to report such pets to the agency. The editorial board of The Advocate newspaper in Stamford also advocated banning the possession of all exotic birds and reptiles.
U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer introduced the Captive Primate Safety Act introduced on January 6, 2009, which would have added monkeys, great apes, and lemurs to the list of "prohibited wildlife species" that cannot be sold or purchased through interstate and foreign sales. The attack led the Humane Society of the United States to join with the Wildlife Conservation Society in supporting the Act. Travis' attack resulted in the bill's reintroduction by co-sponsor, Rep. Mark Kirk, on February 23, 2009. Rep. Rob Bishop argued against the bill during the floor debate, noting it would cost $4 million annually and do nothing directly to prevent chimpanzee attacks on humans. He also claimed such attacks are relatively rare. Twenty states and the District of Columbia already have laws banning primates as pets. On February 23, 2009, the House voted 323 to 95 in favor of the bill, and the editorial boards of several major newspapers, including The New York Times and Newsday, supported its passage. The bill was never taken up by the US Senate.
- Christoffersen, John (May 25, 2010). "Owner of chimpanzee in Conn. mauling dies at 72". The Guardian. London. Associated Press. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
- "Chimpanzee Attack Revives Calls for Federal Primate Law". Fox News. 18 February 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- Lockhard, Brian (February 17, 2009). "State turned blind eye to Stamford chimpanzee". The Advocate. Stamford. Retrieved February 18, 2009.[dead link]
- Nashtrust.com Archived July 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Chimp mauling victim Charla Nash's $150 million lawsuit against Connecticut denied". New York Daily News. Associated Press. June 14, 2013.
- Gallman, Stephanie (February 17, 2009). "Chimp attack 911 call: 'He's ripping her apart'". CNN. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
- Roger Catlin, About that Chimp, Hartford Courant, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- James Bone, Celebrity chimp who savaged handler in drug-fuelled frenzy shot dead, The Times, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Rich Schapiro, Mom of crazed chimpanzee, Travis, also shot dead during rage in 2001, New York Daily News, February 21, 2009, Accessed February 24, 2009.
- Mike Celizic, Owner describes chimp’s terrifying rampage, TODAYShow.com, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009; also see associated video available on the Today Show website.
- "Travis the Menace". NYMag.com. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- Jeff Morganteen, Victim's face mauled in Stamford chimpanzee attack, Stamford Advocate, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- "Residents Shocked By Brutal Chimp Attack - Connecticut News Story - W…". wfsb.com. 5 December 2010. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- "Chimp, owner had unusual bond". USA Today. February 19, 2009. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Ed Pilkington, Chimpanzee shot after attack outside New York, The Guardian, February 17, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- "Owner Shared Bed and Took Baths With Chimpanzee From Connecticut Attack". Fox News. February 20, 2009. Archived from the original on March 15, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
- Smith, Emily (February 21, 2009). "Crazed chimp shared owners bath and bed". The Sun. London. Archived from the original on February 23, 2009.
- ABC News. "Chimp Has Attacked Before, Woman Claims". ABC News.
- "Owner, Travis the chimp had unusual bond - US news - Life". NBC News. 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2014-01-17.
- Andy Newman and Anahad O'Connor, Woman Mauled by Chimp Is Still in Critical Condition, The New York Times, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Travis Led to New Law in '04, NBCConnecticut.com, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Devon Lash, Family: Victim makes 'good, but small, progress", Stamford Advocate, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 20, 2009.
- Residents Shocked By Brutal Chimp Attack, Eyewitness News 3, updated: March 4, 2009, Accessed September 19, 2010.
- Chimp Attack 911 Call, CBS's official channel on YouTube, February 17, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- "Chilling 911 Call Chronicles Chimp Attack". Eyewitness News 3. February 18, 2009. Archived from the original on August 16, 2010.
- Anahad O'Connor, Woman Mauled by Chimp Has Surgery, and Her Vital Signs Improve, The New York Times, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 19, 2009.
- Edgar Sandoval and Rich Schapiro, Charla Nash lost eyes, nose and jaw in chimpanzee attack, New York Daily News, February 19, 2009, Accessed February 19, 2009.
- Lawrence K. Altman and Anahad O'Connor, Cleveland Clinic Gets Victim of Chimp Attack, The New York Times, February 19, 2009, Accessed February 20, 2009.
- Lash, Devon. Family sets up fund for chimp attack victim. March 5, 2009. Stamford Advocate. Accessed March 13, 2009.
- "Chimp Attack Victim Reveals Face During Oprah Interview"[dead link], by "combined staff and wire reports [...] Associated Press and Hartford Courant", Hartford Courant website, November 11, 2009, retrieved same day
- "Chimp mauling victim Charla Nash's $150 million lawsuit against Connecticut denied". New York Daily News. Associated Press. June 14, 2013.
- Khan, Amina (10 June 2011). "Charla Nash, chimpanzee attack victim, receives full face transplant in Boston". latimes.com. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
- John Christofferen, Woman says Connecticut chimpanzee bit her in '96, Associated Press, February 19, 2009, Accessed February 19, 2009.
- John Christoffersen (2009-05-13). "Conn. chimp that mauled woman had Xanax in system". Google News. Associated Press.[dead link]
- Potts, Monica. 2009. Chimp had Xanax in his system. Stamford, CT: Stamford Advocate
- "Stamford chimpanzee cremated". Stamford Advocate. 2009-02-25. Archived from the original on February 28, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
- Tests Show Chimp Had Anti-Anxiety Drug Xanax in System During Vicious Attack Archived 2012-11-02 at the Wayback Machine, FoxNews.com, updated: Wednesday, May 13, 2009, Accessed September 21, 2010.
- Why would a chimpanzee attack a human? Archived 2011-03-20 at the Wayback Machine, Scientific American, updated: February 19, 2009, Accessed September 21, 2010.
- "The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Winter, 1998" (PDF). benzosupport.org. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- Potts, Monica. 3-16-09. Lawyer for chimp attack victim says lawsuit imminent. Stamford, CT: The Stamford Advocate. Retrieved, 3-16-09
- "$50M Chimp Attack Lawsuit Heads to Court". NBC Connecticut. Associated Press. 2009-05-07.
- Staff reporters. 03-17-2009. Family of Stamford chimp attack victim seeks $50M. Stamford, CT: The Stamford Advocate, Southern CT. Newspapers, Inc, Hearst CT Post, LLC. Retrieved, 3-17-09, 1:46PM
- Christoffersen, John, of Associated Press. 2009. Lawyer for Stamford chimp owner: animal wasn't violent. Stamford, CT: The Advocate Posted: 04/10/2009 Retrieved: 4/14/09
- "Sandy Herold Dead: Owner Of Chimp Who Attacked Charla Nash Dies". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28.
- "Charla Nash, chimp attack victim, settles lawsuit for less than sought". latimes.
- "Charla Nash, Chimp Attack Victim, Denied $150 Million Lawsuit". Huffingtonpost.com. June 14, 2013. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-17.
- "U.S. News | National News - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2014-01-17.
- "Chimps", episode of Fatal Attractions; screen appears approximately 10 seconds before episode ends.
- TV advert chimp attacks woman, police, China Daily, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Dillon, Nancy (February 22, 2009), "Man who lost face in '05 mauling knows hell of new chimpanzee victim", The New York Daily News
- Bryan Walsh, Why the Stamford Chimp Attacked, Time, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Jane Goodall, Loving chimps to death, Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2009, Accessed February 26, 2009
- Frans de Waal, Another Chimp Bites the Dust, Huffington Post, February 17, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Roy Edroso, Crazed Chimp 911 Tape Revealed; PETA Peeps Harass Owner, Village Voice, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Tony Aiello, Chimp Owner Hammered With Threatening Calls, WCBStv.com, February 17, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Wilson, Michael (February 24, 2010). "After Shooting Chimp, a Police Officer’s Descent" New York Times
- John Christofferen, Slain chimp's owner now says it wasn't on Xanax, Associated Press, February 18, 2009, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Ban the possession of wild animals, The Advocate (Stamford), February 18, 2009, Accessed February 20, 2009.
- Peter Urban, U.S. House to vote on primate ban, The Advocate (Stamford), February 23, 2009, Accessed February 24, 2009.
- Ben Smith, The Primate Act of '09, Politico.com, February 23, 2009, Accessed February 24, 2009.
- Peter Urban, House approves primate pet ban, Connecticut Post, February 24, 2009, Accessed February 24, 2009.
- House tightens restrictions on chimps as pets, USA TODAY, February 24, 2009, Accessed February 24, 2009.
- Primates Aren’t Pets, The New York Times, February 26, 2009, Accessed February 26, 2009.
- Pass the primate act, Newsday, February 26, 2009, Accessed February 26, 2009.
- The Hartford Courant, a small photo gallery in The Hartford Courant's web site, showing Herold, Travis, and Nash
- Travis the Menace, New York magazine in-depth profile