Tuesday, 14 August 2012

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 yard-sized 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. She says she found several bars bent inward, opening an escape route.
De Rosa suspects foul play. 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.
De Rosa and Watkinson are not the chimps' owners. They said they were caring for the chimps at the nearby home of the owner and planning a better life for them. The chimps were housed in a yard-sized enclosure in the neighbor's backyard in a residential neighborhood.

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