Chimps' caretaker speaks out on deadly escape - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Chimps' caretaker speaks out on deadly escape

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Timmi DeRosa and her fiance cared for the two chimps for the past seven years. Timmi DeRosa and her fiance cared for the two chimps for the past seven years.

Las Vegas Metro police shot and killed a chimpanzee and tranquilized another after the animals escaped from a home on the city's northwest side Thursday.

Residents and motorists in the area were forced to lock their doors during the nearly two-hour ordeal that began just after 10 a.m. in the area of Ann Road and Jones Boulevard.

Timmi DeRosa, caretaker of the two chimpanzees who escaped, doesn't know how they escaped from a $100,000 cage.

"I say God, I just know that he's in a better place and he'll never have to be in a cage again," DeRosa said.

The chimps, Buddy and CJ, lived at the property for years. DeRosa and her fiancé adopted them while using the property owner's permits.

"Unfortunately, we took these chimps to save them, and we didn't do a very good job," DeRosa said. "I mean, obviously, because one chimp is dead."

Nevada allows for the ownership of wild and exotic animals such as a chimpanzee as long as the proper permits are obtained.

"(The chimps are) confused. They don't know what to do, where to go," said Las Vegas Zoo Director Pat Dingle.

Dingle works with chimpanzees and other primates every day. At the Las Vegas Zoo, chimps are housed in a nearly 3,000-square-foot area with bulletproof safety glass, which prevents escape.

Dingle imagines the two chimps that escaped from the Las Vegas home were scared.

"They don't intentionally go after (people) - they're not predators. Their main psychological need in an escape situation is to flee to safety," Dingle said.

Dingle had no idea the chimps were living at that residence, but Clark County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture did. Both granted permits to the property owner, Chimps R Us.

Nevada is one of six states that do not have laws against the private possession of wild animals.

"It's an absolute tragedy what happened, but honestly I'm not entirely surprised that it did," said Holly Haley, Nevada state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

The Humane Society wants Nevada to stop granting such permits. Records show there are 27 locations in Clark County approved for exotic animals.

DeRosa said the female chimp that was tranquilized, CJ, is back on the property and doing well. The location has been licensed by the Department of Agriculture for 10 years.

According to The Humane Society, since 1990 more than 200 people in the United States have been injured by captive primates, not including the incidents that never got reported.

Copyright 2012 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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