Infant Chimp Killed At Zoo While Visitors Watched
The first chimpanzee baby born at the Los Angeles Zoo in 13 years was killed by an adult male chimp while visitors watched. It is alleged that the male took the baby from the mother Tuesday afternoon, and after a skirmish the infant was dead and the mother despondent.
Despite the fact that zoo officials asserted that the attack "came out of the blue" there are other reports of fights that occurred in the exhibit days before the fatal attack that could have served as a portend of things to come. Craig Stanford, a USC professor who studies chimps, defended the zoo with his assertion that aggressive behavior in chimps occurs both in the wild and in captivity and that, in fact, "chimps can be very nasty animals. They abuse females, and they attack babies”. This actually suggests that no violent behavior between chimps could ever be "out of the blue" or a surprise to zoo personnel particularly when the introduction of a new baby stresses and further complicates the population dynamics in a confined space.
It seems easy to achieve and reasonable to expect, that in captivity, where the exhibit is constantly monitored and controlled by zoo keepers familiar with chimp behavior, that hyper vigilance is warranted and extra care mandated upon the birth of a baby. Erring on the side of caution may have yielded a different result. After all - they are not in the wild. We can and must intervene.
spcaLA, animal welfare activists and concerned citizens have called for a full investigation by city officials, the Department of Fish and Game and the USDA into the matter to determine if this tragedy could have been avoided, and to put remedial protocols in place to prevent or reduce the likelihood of future incidents involving chimps or any other animal held in captivity.
Sure, in the wild animals resolve their own issues and have ways to retreat from confrontation. Once we trap them in a cage we have a duty to protect them.