Chimps who attacked US student to live

2012-07-03 22:23

Johannesburg - Two adult chimpanzees that viciously attacked a US student at a primate sanctuary in Mpumalanga were defending their territory and will be allowed to live, the lead government investigator said on Tuesday.

Conservationist Dries Pienaar blamed human error for Thursday's attack.

But one of the sanctuary managers, Eugene Cussons, said he did not blame Andrew Oberle for crossing between two safety fences to retrieve a rock that the chimps were in the habit of throwing at tourists.

Oberle was in critical condition and in a medically induced coma in a hospital on Monday night. On Tuesday, doctors refused to describe his condition saying the family, which has arrived from the United States, is traumatised and asking for privacy.

No negligence

Pienaar told The Associated Press that the chimps tore off one of Oberle's testicles and some fingers from one hand as well as mauling his head. This was "to my astonishment, I couldn't believe it because I know those chimps personally," he said.

He said he found no negligence on the part of the Jane Goodall Institute's Chimpanzee Eden SA in eastern South Africa.

"The only thing that happened is Andrew stepped over the small barrier fence and went right up to the electric fence," he said. "We all know that they are tame chimps, but he shouldn't have done that, he's a researcher, he's supposed to read the body language."

Oberle was leading a group of tourists at the time. The visitors were 10m from the second fence, as required by safety rules. After Oberle stepped over the first fence, the chimps dragged him under the electric fence, then out into a public area where they continued to attack him, Cussons said.

Cussons said he was happy that Pienaar found the chimps were involved in territorial defence and would not therefore be killed or punished.

Shot at

He said he was forced to shoot one of the chimps, but not mortally, after he and a ranger failed to scare the animals into releasing Oberle. When they drove a car at them, chimp Nikki jumped onto the front and smashed the windshield, causing Cussons to fire.

Nikki, aged about 16, was wounded in the abdomen and is being treated at the Johannesburg Zoo.

The other attacker, Amadeus, in its 20s, is on lockdown with its family at the sanctuary.

Pienaar, who has worked as a conservationist for 33 years, said he condoned the shooting, a last option under protocols that recommend first shock treatment or pepper sprays.

"Other than that I'm happy with things," Pienaar said. "I'm not having the chimps put down. I don't think there's reason for that."

Oberle is a post-graduate student of anthropology and primate behaviour at the University of Texas in  San Antonio. It was his second trip to study at the South African institute, which takes in orphaned and abused chimpanzees.

  • ThaboShakuNews24 - 2012-07-03 23:39

    Why not!

      wayne.hardaker.3 - 2012-07-04 00:04

      Is that a question? If so, try reading the article and maybe you'll be able to answer it for yourself.

      john.barbarian.9 - 2012-07-04 05:06

      Wayne....just wait for day or two and you will find that Andrew Oberle "attacked" the "innocent" chimps. Thabo knows better...Thabo is clevaaaar

      spartanx93 - 2012-07-04 10:17

      The chimps lives are at risk for attacking a US citizen. While all the chimps that run round murdering and raping the country side just get a smack on the hand!!!

      lerato.kay.3 - 2012-07-04 10:45

      These chimps are aggressive hey, the way they clobbered the poor chaps even tearing his testicles! As if that was not enough after trying to scare them with a car the mighty chimp stood on the bonnet and smashed the windscreen LOL. I’m sure to see this clip on Most Daring. My respect for chimps has just increased exponentially and you will never find me disturbing their peace because one thing for sure they will give it to you! Chimps you deserve a bells, your territory will sure be safe!

  • Mari Theologo - 2012-07-04 00:05

    Because animals cant always be held responsible for human ignorant behavior!! My heart goes out to him and his family but he should have known better!

  • siliziwem - 2012-07-04 03:12

    its nt the 1st time an American tourist is attacked by a wild animal, they also ignorant thinking tht here in Africa we live in the jungle with these animals!

      Jan van Niekerk - 2012-07-04 09:44

      Not true,during the 2010 Worl Cup many American tourists were held up and their belongings stolen from them by wild animals roaming our streets!

  • brendon.nel.7 - 2012-07-04 05:10

    Good lord have mercy!!! His nuts! They took his nuts!!! I'd waste that ape if he took my ball. Ka-Pow!!

      Jose Pereira - 2012-07-04 07:37

      Hear hear!!!

      scouter.fourone - 2012-07-04 08:47

      Assuming of course, that you have any ...

      Bruce - 2012-07-04 11:31

      Since then can chimps distinguish one body part from another? Animals are not as obsessed with their genitals as humans. Your comment is extremely foolish!

  • lgcoetzee - 2012-07-04 06:33

    When will people ever learn that however wild animals were hand-raised by humans, they will always stay wild animals!!!! Have respect for the animals!

  • Thando Tdoz Kubheka - 2012-07-04 07:01

    Shame feel sorry for the student but hey the Chimps too they were protecting their territory. hope he gets better soon

      Bruce - 2012-07-04 11:32

      I applaud you!!!!!

  • enlightened.bowman - 2012-07-04 07:49

    The arrogance of the human race can not be desribed in English. The chimps simply did what nature and their genes have taught them to do. We invade their space in the name of civilisation, when the chimps react instinctively, we decide whether they deserve to live or die. I'm ashamed of myself.

  • raymond.kok3 - 2012-07-04 08:28

    good because the chimp was just doing what he does naturally when you trespass you should expect the landlord or house owner in this case mr chimp to act you go chimp

  • jones.mkandawire - 2012-07-04 08:38

    He will never forget not to respect animal space. Anger of an imprisoned animal knows no limits

  • mfundi.ndaba - 2012-07-04 09:24

    What a hard lesson to learn, him and his family must be traumatized. Speedy recovery but I can't help but wonder what on earth he was thinking?

  • simon.walsh.311 - 2012-07-04 09:30

    If animals defend territory, there is normally provocation of some kind before attacking. Those Chimps were not defending territory, they're angry. They are in kill mode. i mean, throwing stones at people, smashing a windscreen, attacking the student so viciously? They are probably sick and tired of being kept in captivity for the amusement of stupid humans and to be so confined for them, is unnatural. Imagine you lived in your office with your colleagues day in and day out. Would you get angry?

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