Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chimp Bites Trainer's Finger Off, Other Ape Returns It

chimp bites fingerA trainer at the San Diego Zoo lost part of his finger to a chimp Wednesday.

A coworker of trainer Mike Bates said the two of them were doing a medical check on pygmy chimps known as bonobos Wednesday morning. He said that when Bates pointed at a chimp named Ikela to give the all clear that she was OK, the chimp bit off the tip off his finger.

Later, zoo workers noticed the finger tip in the middle of a cage. They signaled for another chimp, Lana, to retrieve the finger.

As soon as the second chimp handed over the fingertip, she was rewarded with raisins.

Bates has 22 years of experience at the zoo.

Bates told the paper he was lucky the finger was still intact and that the chimp didn't think it was food.

Bates had the fingertip reattached and has a 70 percent chance that it will heal, according to the paper. He is expected to return to work next week.

Zoo officials theorized that Ikela, the 15-year-old chimp who did the nipping, might not have been feeling well. She is pregnant and could have been annoyed or tired by extra monitoring due to her pregnancy.

A caption accompanying a picture of Ikela on the zoo's web site reads, "Ikela is always pushing the limits of good behavior."

The caption for the chimp named Lana, who rescued the finger, reads, "She has a strong bond with her caretakers."

Story here.

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