Disfigured face on Oprah

2009-11-12 16:02


Chicago - A woman who was attacked by a 90kg chimpanzee revealed her heavily disfigured face on television on Wednesday, saying she is blind and has to eat through a straw, but isn't angry.

"I don't even think about it," Charla Nash said on Wednesday's episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. "And there's no time for that anyways because I need to heal, you know, not look backward."

Winfrey removed Nash's hat and veil to reveal her face, which was swollen and damaged beyond recognition. She had a large scar near the bottom of her face and a large piece of skin where her nose had been.

The attack on February 16 occurred when the animal's owner, Sandra Herold, asked Nash, her friend and employee, to help lure the animal back into her house in Stamford, Connecticut. The chimpanzee ripped off Nash's hands, nose, lips and eyelids.

Police shot and killed the animal. Nash has been hospitalised since. She remains in stable condition at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Nash said she didn't remember anything from the attack and doesn't want to.


"I want to get healthy," she said. "I don't want to wake up with nightmares."

In a telephone interview on Wednesday night, Nash said she repeatedly warned Herold that the primate was dangerous and could hurt someone. Nash said she saw the chimpanzee throw large objects around his cage, including a desk and 208-litre plastic drum.

She said she saw him flash his teeth and pound the bars of the cage so violently his hands would bleed.

"They had to weld the cage because he was starting to break out from hitting it so much," Nash said.

Another time Herold told workers at her house they had to leave because Travis was misbehaving, Nash said.

Nash said she was afraid of Travis, who was typically locked in his cage when she saw him. Nash said she told Herold eight or 10 times he was dangerous.

"I always told her you have to get rid of him, he's going to hurt somebody someday. He's too dangerous," Nash said. "You can't control him, and he's going to hurt somebody."

Legal proceedings

Nash, who occasionally fed Travis oatmeal in his cage, said she told Herold that Travis did not have enough room to run around and she should give him up.

"Sandy would say, 'I know, but it's hard,"' explaining that she believed if she gave him up, he would not get the same level of care she provided.

Herold had black and blue marks from Travis, but she would say they were from playing around with him, Nash said.

Asked about Herold, Nash said, "I feel like I've been thrown under a bus" since the attack happened and legal proceedings began.

Herold's attorney, Robert Golger, provided AP with a statement, saying Herold wishes Nash the best.

"All of Sandy's hopes and prayers are with Charla and her daughter in this challenging time," the statement read. "Sandy hopes and prays for a full and speedy recovery."

Nash's family has filed a $50m lawsuit against Herold, saying she was negligent and reckless for lacking the ability to control "a wild animal with violent propensities".


Herold's attorney has argued the attack was work-related and the case should be treated as a workers' compensation claim. Nash denied she was Herold's employee.

Nash's family filed notice with Connecticut's Office of Claims Commissioner this month, asking for permission to sue the state for $150m, saying officials failed to prevent the attack. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has said his office is reviewing the claim.

Herold owned the 14-year-old chimp nearly all its life. When he was younger, Travis starred in TV commercials and took part in a television pilot.

A state biologist had warned Connecticut officials that the chimp could hurt someone. The animal had the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in its system, according to toxicology tests, but investigators don't know whether the drug played a role in the attack.

Nash told Winfrey she is not in pain but can't breathe through her nose and has to eat through a straw. She said she doesn't touch her face often.

"I know that I have my forehead," Nash said. "It feels like just patches of tape or gauze or covering, covering my face."

It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago, when an eye doctor told Nash she no longer had eyes, that she realised she would never see again, she said. Nash said she doesn't ask many questions about her injuries.


"It's like less for me to worry about if I don't know," she said.

Nash said the animal had once ripped out a hunk of her hair and grabbed her arm a few times.

"You could feel the strength he had," she said.

Nash said she wants to warn people about potential dangers posed by exotic animals.

"I'd like to put across to people's minds that these exotic animals are very dangerous and they shouldn't be around," Nash said on Winfrey's show. "There's a place for them that is not in residential areas."

Even if she isn't feeling well, Nash said she pushes herself to go for a walk during the day. She wears a veil so she doesn't scare people and to avoid insults.

"I'm the same person I've always been," she said. "I just look different."

Here's a clip from YouTube. WARNING: Graphic Content:

- AP
Read more on:    tv

Nothing for Mahala!

2013-10-09 09:02

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

/Oscar Pistorius

6 impressive camping tips

Check out these great tips that will make your camping experience so much better!


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Free outdoor yoga classes
Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding
Action camera for all occasions
Tips on how to set your fitness goals

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a strong social and romantic overtone that plays its way into your day. It may get stronger later in the day when the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.