The oddest story of the week, perhaps the month, is that of Travis, a chimpanzee who was unaccountably kept as a pet by a couple in Stamford, Connecticut. In 2003 he was riding in a car with his owners when, enraged by a young man who threw something at him, unbuckled his seat belt, got out of the car and “ran around a downtown intersection for two hours” before authorities, despite lacking a tranquilizer gun, subdued him and took him into custody. Permits are required for such exotic animal companions in Stamford, but Sandra and Jerome Herold had enjoyed the unpermitted company of the chimp since the 1990s and were apparently grandfathered in.
Travis seemed rehabilitated, and appeared in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola. But it was reported that he had become a wine drinker and a user of the internet, which has deformed many another sterling character. Yesterday the 200-pound monkey ape got into “a rambunctious mood,” Sandra Herold told the Times, took the keys to his house and let himself out. This time, as he tried local car doors, presumably seeking a ride, Herold called a family friend, Charla Nash, to come over and give Travis some Xanax tea. It is suspected that Nash’s change in hairstyle made her difficult for Travis to recognize; maybe he was just fed up. He attacked and critically injured Nash, chewing on her face. After trying to resolve the situation herself with a kitchen knife, Herold called the cops. Stamford Police Captain Richard Conklin responded and Travis climbed into a cop car and started attacking an officer, who responded with gunfire.
Travis made a last run for freedom, but was later discovered in a local wooded area his home, having succumbed to his injuries.
As often happens with celebrities, some are making excuses for Travis. “May it serve as a reminder to us all that some animals are not meant to and cannot be domesticated,” says Fame Watcher, and a Lyme Disease site suggests Travis’ recent bout with the illness, or the medication he was taking for it, may have influenced his judgment. Revised 10:30 a.m. Photo via TV Guide.