1st chimp at Tacugama kills man, leads escape
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2006:
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone– Bruno, 20, the orphaned
chimpanzee for whom Bala Amarasekaran founded the Tacugama Chimpanzee
Sanctuary in 1995, led 31 other chimps in an April 23 mass breakout,
killing tourist driver Issa Kanu.
The three American passengers, in Sierra Leone to help build
a new U.S. embassy about two miles from Tacugama, were reportedly
flown to Atlanta for treatment of undisclosed injuries.
Reuters identified them as Gary Morris, Paul Gregory, and
Donald Ford. Agence France-Press said they were Alan Robertson,
Gary Brown, and Richie Goodie.
“The men are recovering gradually from shock and their wounds
are no longer life-threatening,” a nurse told AFP.
Four chimps later returned to Tacugama. Five others were
caught within 48 hours of the escape. Police and soldiers hunted the
rest. About 40 to 50 other chimps remained in their enclosures at
Tacugama, a 100-acre facility which has become the leading tourist
attraction in Sierra Leone.
The incident reportedly began when Kanu took the visitors to
Tacugama before the usual opening hour.
“According to zoo officials, citing survivors’ accounts,
Bruno smashed the windscreen of the car which took the men to
Tacugama,” Agence France-Press reported. “Kanu tried to drive the
car away but crashed into the sanctuary gate.” Bruno dragged Kanu
from the car by his neck, bit off his extremities, and killed him
with a facial bite.
Amarasekaran bought Bruno as an infant for $30, and named
him after Frank Bruno, a British heavyweight boxer who fought Mike
Tyson on the day of the deal.
Tacugama operates under the auspices of the Sierra Leone
Conservation Society. It has never before had an escape, SLCS
president Sama Banya said.
The escape paralleled the March 3, 2005 escape of two male
chimpanzees named Buddy and Ollie from the Animal Haven Ranch
sanctuary near Caliente, California. The chimps had apparently
learned how to unlock their cage, unknown to Animal Haven Ranch
operator Virginia Brauer.
Elsewhere on the property, St. James Davis, 62, and his
wife LaDonna Davis, 64, of West Covina, had taken a birthday cake
to Moe, 39, who lived for most of his life in a cage in their yard.
He was moved to the Wildlife Waystation sanctuary east of Los Angeles
in 1999 by the California Department of Fish & Game, and then
transferred to the Animal Haven Ranch in 2004.
Taking the Davises by surprise, the escaped chimps
reportedly bit or tore off St. James Davis’ nose, testicles, his
left foot, and several fingers on both hands, as well as putting
out one of his eyes. Mark Carruthers, Brauer’s son-in-law, shot
both chimps, summoned police and medics, and provided first aid as
instructed by the 911 dispatcher.
St. James Davis, hospitalized for six months, survived with
help of an induced coma. The attack gave impetus to efforts to
strengthen California laws restricting possession of exotic and/or
dangerous animals, and governing supervision of animal sanctuaries.