When Animals Attack - Travis the Chimp
At one time, Travis the Chimp was the most famous Chimpanzee in America. He appeared in television commercials, daytime talk shows and even a television pilot.
He was adopted by Sandra Herold when he was just three days young, and she and her husband raised the chimp as if he was their son.
People in their small Connecticut town loved Travis the Chimp because he acted like an intelligent child who loved to put on a show.
If you would have had the opportunity to meet the animal you might have been tempted to think that he was tame and perfectly safe - as did most people who came into contact with him.
However . . . it is important to remember that wild animals like chimpanzees cannot be completely tamed to domestication, they can only be socialized. One simply cannot take the wild streak out of chimps, and no one knows that better than Charla Nash.
Nash was best friends with Travis' owner/mom, Sandra Herold, and she paid a terrible price for her friendship when the chimp broke character and completely mauled her face.
Watch The Chimp Attack Story on Animal Planet's "Fatal Attraction"
Sandra Herold & Travis the Chimp
Sandra and Jerome Herlod lived in the city of Stamford, Connecticut with their young son. The couple took in the baby chimpanzee after his mother was shot and killed in a chimp sancturary in Missouri.
The Herold's quicky grew attached to Travis and he could be seen in public with the couple as they went about their day as the owners of a car towing company.
In fact, Travis became very familiar to Stamford police officers because they were in constant contact with the Herold's due to the nature of their business.
As Travis matured, he displayed signs of intelligence - he would open doors with keys, he dined with his family, he appreciated wine, he could fully dress himself, he was able to water the household plants, and he fed the Herold's horses.
Travis had a particular penchant for ice cream, and he grew to anticipate the schedule of neighborhood ice cream trucks.
Even more remarkably, Travis the Chimp was able to brush his teeth, utilize a remote control to watch the television, and he even drove the family car several times.
The Herold's had grown so used to the chimpanzee until they considered him to be a son and raised him in close quarters alongside their son.
Tragedy Strikes the Herold Household
In 2003, the Herold's young son was killed in an automobile accident. Then a year later, Jerome Herold took ill and he succumbed to cancer.
These tragic turn of events caused Sandra to grow closer to Travis, and she was known to be sleeping and bathing with the chimp.
Hints that a Wild Animal May Lurk Beneath the Surface
Despite Travis' seemingly domesticated behavior, there were several incidents where the loveable pet was accused of animal attack.
- A woman claimed to have been bitten by Travis
- A young man was chased by Travis after he threw something at the Herold's car and struck the chimp. He did not catch the young man, but he held up traffic and constantly chased police.
- Experts agree that chimpanzees have the propensity for far greater violence than even gorillas
The Horrific Attack on Charla Nash
In mid 2009, Sandra Herold contacted her friend Charla Nash to help her wrangle Herold's car keys. Travis had taken the keys and ran out of the house.
As soon as Travis laid eyes on Charla, he viciously attacked her. The 911 call fron Sandra Herold told a chilling tail of the sequence of events.
As Travis laid waste to Charla's face and hands, Sandra pleaded with the 911 operator for help. She had hit the animal with a shovel and stabbed him with a butcher knife in an attempt to get him off of her friend, but this only served to further anger the animal and he began eating Charla.
When police arrived, the wild chimp greeted them at their car and an officer shot him. Travis then ran into the house, where he died next to his cage.
Charla Nash's injuries shocked even paramedics who were used to encountering gruesome and grisly scences.
She later underwent hours of surgeries to repair her hands and face. In another testament to the extraordinarily gory nature of Nash's injuries, the hospital staff members who attended to her had to undergo counseling as a result of the massive nature of the woman's injuries.
Nash lost several parts of her face, and her brain tisssue was scarred. In November of 2009, she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in order to reveal the extent of her injuries.
You can see the aftermath photos below, but I caution you that it is not a pretty sight . . .
After the attack, Sandra Herold was hit with a $50 millin dollar lawsuit. It eventually surfaced that Travis the Chimp had been suffereng from Lyme Disease, and he had been given medication (Xanax) that could have possibly attributed to the violent attack on Charla Nash.
There was also some discrepancy as to the validity of the two previous violent attacks , and Herold's defense claimed that travis had shown no violent tendencies before the grisly incident.
In May of 2010, Sandra Herold died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm. The last years of her life were riddled with tragic events in the form of the deaths of her child, husband, and Travis, the mauling of her friend Charla Nash, and the subsequent lawsuit.
Her attorney stated that her heart could take no more. Sandra Herold was 72 years of age.
Travis the chimp was autopsied, and a significant amount of Xanax was indeed found in his system.