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Animal activists call for change after chimpanzees escape

Animal activists call for change after chimpanzees escape

By Katie Crowther. CREATED Jul 12, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Action News is learning more about the two chimpanzees who escaped a residence in the northwest area of the Las Vegas valley on Thursday morning.

The adult chimps are named Buddy and CJ. They stand at about five feet tall and weigh close to 200 pounds. As babies, Buddy and CJ were considered local celebrities. They were put on display every weekend at the Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet. People would pay to hold them and take pictures.

Panicked residents couldn't believe their eyes when they saw the creatures roaming their neighborhood on Thursday morning.

"All the sudden I noticed huge chimpanzees tearing leaves off the trees in my backyard," says Hannah Stevens. "One of them looked right at me. They eventually climbed over the backyard wall and were gone. I was scared. They seemed agitated. They could have really hurt someone."

Animal activists say the threat was very real.

"Their hands have the strength of five to seven men," says Linda Faso. "They are dangerous and have instincts. You never know if a sound, smell or noise will trigger them."

Faso has long been pushing for a state law to ban people from keeping chimps and other exotic animals in homes.

"It often takes an animal death, or something awful to happen to them, to bring attention to this issue," she says. "Like in this case, an innocent animal lost its life, another was tranquilized. People shouldn't have these wild animals as pets. As citizens, it is our responsibility to make sure laws change. These animals don't have a voice."

Nevada is one of only a few states that still doesn't have any exotic pet laws. Currently, to have a wild animal in a private residence, all you need is a permit.

Faso also wants to make sure the surviving chimp, CJ, is taken to a sanctuary.

"She's going to be broken-hearted without her partner, Buddy," Faso says. "She could act out, or develop an illness. She belongs with another group of chimps, who she can socialize with, and relate to. She needs proper care."