Entries in Chimps (5)


Chimps Who Mauled Oberle Were Victims Too, Says Park Director

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As Andrew Oberle, the Texas graduate student who was mauled by chimpanzees in South Africa in late June, recovers in a hospital, a director of the center where the attack took place said the chimps were victims, too.

In his first extensive interview since the attack, Eugene Cussons, managing director of the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden in Nelspruit, South Africa, said Nikki and Amadeus, the chimpanzees who attacked Oberle on June 28, suffered before coming to Chimpanzee Eden.  Nikki was raised as a human child, and Amadeus watched his family be killed and cooked to sell as food on the roadside.

"He [Nikki] used to wear human clothes, he was shaved, it was very much like a human child," Cussons told ABC News.  "Amadeus had a more traumatic past.  He was just a baby and a product of the bush meat trade.  Some of his family members were being cooked and served."

Oberle, 26, was leading a tour group at Chimpanzee Eden when he was attacked by the two male chimps.  Cussons told ABC News it was a lack of judgment on Oberle's part that led to the attack.

"You have to always keep in mind that these are wild creatures," said Cussons.  "You [Oberle] had a lapse in judgment across the safety boundary and get too close to the main fence, and he took his eyes off the chimpanzees when he did that."

Cussons said he believed Oberle crossed the public fence and entered a "no-go zone" just before he was attacked.  From witness reports, it's believed that Oberle stepped on a rock under an electrified fence that Nikki and Amadeus viewed as their territory.

"The chimpanzee got enraged on the other side," Cussons said.  "He lunged forward and tried to grab Andrew's foot from underneath the fence."

Cussons said that's when Oberle was dragged halfway under the mesh fence, struggling for his life.  The electric fences had no effect on the chimpanzees.

Oberle's body became stuck halfway under the fence, forcing Nikki and Amadeus to push Oberle back out of their compound and into the public area.  The two chimpanzees then escaped their compound using the hole made by Oberle's body, grabbing and dragging him for nearly 100 feet.

Cussons said the two chimpanzees continued to maul Oberle for at least 12 minutes before Cussons himself was able to force the animals into submission by shooting Nikki in the abdomen.

Oberle was recently transferred from a South African hospital to Saint Louis University Hospital in Saint Louis, Mo., his family said.  He was placed into a medically-induced coma after the attack but no information has been provided about his current condition.

Nikki is recovering from his gunshot wound and will return to Chimpanzee Eden.  Cussons said both Nikki and Amadeus will be studied before fully being reintroduced to their family group.  They will not be euthanized.

Watch the full story Friday on ABC's 20/20: When Animals Strike Back at 10 p.m. ET

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Andrew Oberle: Chimp Attack Victim Being Moved to Another Hospital

ABC News(JOHANNESBURG) -- A Texas graduate student who was mauled by chimpanzees will be moved to a Johannesburg hospital on Thursday after doctors told his parents he would get better care there.

Andrew Oberle will be transported from the Nelspruit Medi-clinic to Millpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.  He was taken by ambulance to Nelspruit Airport Thursday morning, and will be flown to Johannesburg.

Oberle's parents, Mary Flint of St. Louis, Mo., and Andrew Oberle Sr., of Florida, arrived in South Africa on Monday and spent the day meeting with doctors to discuss their son's treatment, officials said.  Oberle is in stable condition but remains sedated and in the intensive care unit.  His parents were said to be 'traumatized' upon seeing their son.

"His parents are, well, they're quite traumatized," Robyn Baard, a spokeswoman for the Mediclinic hospital in Nelspruit said at a news conference on Wednesday.  "They have requested privacy."

Oberle, 26, has undergone two surgeries, including one six-hour procedure to clean out the wounds he sustained last Thursday when he was attacked by two chimpanzees after stepping into a restricted area while leading a tour at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden near Johannesburg.

The University of Texas at San Antonio anthropology major was pulled under the restricted zone's fence by the chimps and then dragged nearly 100 feet into the public area where the two males continued to maul him.

Early reports were that Oberle's right upper arm was broken in the attack, while his lower right arm muscle and ligaments are torn and exposed to the bone.  It was also reported that Oberle's left arm was mauled and he lost fingers on both hands.

He also reportedly suffered deep lacerations to both legs and lost several toes.

Oberle's family has asked the hospital to not release details on the extent of their son's injuries.  The hospital spokeswoman said that Oberle is in a condition now that the full extent of his injuries cannot even be seen.

"I have absolutely no idea [what he looks like]," Baard told reporters on Wednesday.  "He is bandaged and in intensive care."

The Jane Goodall Institute says that the attack was a "territorial defense" by the chimps provoked by Oberle's entrance into the "no-go zone" and that the center is safe.

"We still maintain that we are a safe facility," Eugene Cussons, the director of the institute, told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday.  "As far as our protocols go to ensure the safety of visitors coming here, it's still the status quo."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Facebook Page, Donation Site Set Up for Student Mauled by Chimps

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Facebook page and a account have been established to raise money to cover medical care for Andrew Oberle, the Texas grad student who was mauled by two chimps last week at a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa.

The account has raised $15,507 as of Monday night.  The website states, “Andy's passion was working with animals and we all know he will get through this but he needs our help.”

Oberle was leading a tour at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden near Johannesburg when he was attacked.

Eugene Cussons, the director of the institute, told ABC News Oberle was standing in a restricted area when he was attacked.  Cussons says Oberle stepped on a rock that the chimps perceived as their territory, and they charged.  

The chimps involved in the attack will not be euthanized.

The attack left Oberle with severe injuries over his entire body, including massive cuts to his head and face, a broken right arm, torn muscles and ligaments, lacerations to both legs and the loss of several fingers and toes.

Oberle underwent six hours of surgery at a hospital in Nelspruit, South Africa, and is now in stable condition, but remains in a medically-induced coma.

Hospital spokesperson Robyn Baard says the grad student is very seriously ill and is expected to remain in intensive care for some time.

Oberle’s parents arrived in South Africa on Monday to be at their son’s side.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Andrew Oberle: Chimp Attack Victim Upgraded to Stable Condition

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The South African chimp sanctuary where a Texas graduate student was mauled by two chimpanzees last week is safe and has not changed its safety protocols in the wake of the accident, officials said on Monday.

"We still maintain that we are a safe facility," Eugene Cussons, director at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden near Johannesburg, said Monday on ABC's Good Morning America.  "As far as our protocols go to ensure the safety of visitors coming here, it's still the status quo."

Cussons was one of the first to respond to the calls for help last Thursday after Andrew Oberle, a 26-year-old graduate student who had been spending his summer conducting research at the institute, was attacked by two chimpanzees after he stepped into a restricted area while leading a tour.

His condition has since been upgraded to stable.

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Cussons, appearing on GMA Monday feet from where the accident occurred, provided a timeline of what happened in the first moments after he received word of the attack.

"I got the phone call from the sanctuary manager that said to me, 'Listen, we need to invoke lethal force protocol in order to save Andrew's life,'" he said.  "So at that point I raced up with a vehicle, got to the scene, spotted the two chimpanzees, immediately jumped out of the vehicle and charged towards them with a handgun and fired two warning rounds into the air."

"Normally, this would chase any chimpanzees off that might be in attack mode but these two chimpanzees were highly motivated.  They were hyped up.  So I retreated back to my vehicle and fired a third warning round out of the window, right next to the chimpanzee that was now about 30 meters [about 100 feet] from me," Cussons said.  "Finally, I closed my window up and the chimpanzee jumped onto the bottom of my vehicle and started beating through my windshield."

"I was then forced to fire a round at the chimpanzee, warning the chimpanzee because my intention at that point was that I needed to get to Andy so there was no other alternative option," he said.  "The absolute necessity there was how to save human life."

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After the fourth round was fired, the chimps moved away, allowing Cussons and first responders to get to Oberle, who suffered huge cuts to his head and face that left his skull and facial bones exposed.

Oberle, an anthropology major at the University of Texas at San Antonio, underwent six hours of surgery in a South African hospital on Sunday.  His parents arrived at the hospital from the United States Monday morning to be with their son.

"As far as the information that we've received, he is in stable condition," Cussons said.  "We are hurting at the sanctuary in the sense that we've witnessed a lot of things and we're very sorry for what happened and we're just so sorry for the family to have to endure this and for Andy to have to go through this."

The institute's internal investigation of the attack, launched immediately after the attack occurred, shows that the two male chimps, Nikki and Amadeus, responded to Oberle's crossing into a "no-go zone" in one of two fences separating him from the animals.  Oberle did not have clearance to be standing in the area past the public fence, Cussons said.

The chimpanzee shot by Cussons after the attack was taken to the Johannesburg Zoo where he is healing, according to officials.  Neither of the chimps will be euthanized.

Oberle has not been able to speak yet to explain why he went into the restricted zone.  His friends in Texas are raising funds for his care and his father said he will likely return to his research work with the animals if he is able.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Student in Critical Condition After Vicious South African Chimp Attack

Facebook(JOHANNESBURG) -- A Texas graduate student is in an induced coma Friday in South Africa, a day after being mauled by chimpanzees in what one witness called "the worst animal attack I've ever seen."

Andrew Oberle, a 26-year-old studying anthropology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, was leading a tour at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden near Johannesburg Thursday when reports say he left the group and crossed one of two fences separating him from the animals.

When he neared the second fence, which was electrified, two chimpanzees reached underneath and pulled him by his feet into their enclosure.

Oberle was attacked by the animals and dragged half a mile before armed guards and staff members were able to enter the enclosure and rescue him.

"The chimps were still out there. ... He was curled up in a little ball," Lloyd Krause, an ambulance service manager who entered the enclosure to remove Oberle, told ABC News Friday.

Oberle, who suffered from severe bite wounds, underwent surgery at the Mediclinic hospital in Nelspruit, 180 miles from Johannesburg, where he is now in critical condition.

In a statement, the Goodall Institute said, "This is a terrible tragedy that should never have happened. ... All our thoughts and prayers are with this young man and his family."

The university said in a statement Friday that "our hearts go out to Andrew and his family."

David Oosthuizen, the institute's executive director, said the sanctuary had been closed temporarily after the attack. Edwin Jay, the institute's chairman, said the two chimpanzees involved in the mauling would be returned to the enclosure after an investigation into the incident.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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