Monday, February 15, 2010

Chimp Attacks Volunteer At Florida Primate Sanctuary

chimp atackAndrea Maturen, a young but seasoned volunteer, is known to horse around with the chimps she cares for at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary.

Shawn, an 11-year-old chimpanzee, is known for her gentle way, quirky mannerisms and fingerpainting skills.

Friday morning, something went terribly wrong when Shawn relentlessly attacked and chased Maturen, 22, who had been cleaning a nearby cage.

Maturen's arm was severely broken in the scuffle, authorities said. Here's what they say happened:

Around 11:30 a.m., Shawn and another chimp got out of their cage and into an adjacent cage the volunteer was cleaning. Shawn began attacking Maturen. The young woman struggled, but the chimp Shawn kept coming after her.

They both ended up outside the primate sanctuary. Maturen fought to break free, and tried to run inside, but Shawn followed her. Maturen finally had to lock herself in a bathroom to escape Shawn's wrath.

Handlers got the chimps back in their cage, asked everyone to leave and put the sanctuary on lockdown. Maturen was taken to Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs for treatment of serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

"The potential could have been a lot worse," said Lt. Steve De Lacure of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who is investigating the incident.

Full story here.

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