Through an open-records request, the AP obtained records showing that Connecticut officials had been warned since 2003 about a chimpanzee that attacked a woman in February. A Stamford citizen sent an e-mail to the state Department of Environmental Protection asking for a thorough investigation after the chimp escaped from his owner's car in 2003. Someone who ran a primate rescue operation suggested that the chimp be placed in a sanctuary in 2004. The general public began contacting the department with safety concerns. The DEP said no calls or letters presented "specific information indicating that Travis (the chimp) had threatened the public safety or was exhibiting behavior that could lead to such a threat."
Connecticut officials were repeatedly warned about the dangers posed by a chimpanzee who later mauled and blinded a woman and were urged — more than three years before the attack — to take action, but failed to do so, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
The 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis attacked Charla Nash of Stamford in February, ripping off her hands, nose, lips and eyelids. She has been hospitalized for months at the Cleveland Clinic, where her condition late last week was listed as stable.
The state's response could affect a high-stakes lawsuit the victim's family filed against the chimp's owner, Sandra Herold of Stamford, seeking $50 million in damages. Attorneys are weighing whether to sue others as well, but declined to comment further.