Beaten chimp may stay at sanctuary

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The Independent Online
AN AGREEMENT over the future of Trudy, the baby chimp beaten and abused by the circus trainer Mary Chipperfield, could be reached within the next two weeks.

A spokesperson for Trudy's owners, Mary Chipperfield Promotions, said last night that the company had decided it was in the chimpanzee's best interests to allow her to stay at Monkey World, the Dorset sanctuary where she has been recovering for the past nine months.

Mary Chipperfield was convicted of 12 charges of cruelty against Trudy after a video made by the Animal Defenders charity showed her kicking the chimp and keeping her in a box at her farm in Andover, Hampshire,for up to 14 hours a day.

A court ruled that Trudy could be returned to the farm at a later date because her owners, Mary Chipperfield Promotions, had not been implicated in the investigation. Trudy's future was due to be decided when Chipperfield is sentenced on 9 April.

As Sir David Attenborough and other high-profile wildlife experts added their voices to the campaign for Trudy to stay at Monkey World, Mary Chipperfield Promotions appeared to be bowing to public pressure. "It is hoped that when the court case is completed on 9 April Trudy will be able to stay at Monkey World", a spokesman said.

However, last night the signs were that behind-the-scenes manoeuvring could secure a deal on Trudy's future as early as this week.

Sir David and the chimp authority Jane Goodall were among experts who gathered to assess Trudy's condition this weekend. They echoed the concern expressed by Jim and Alison Cronin, the founders of Monkey World, about four chimpanzees still thought to be at the farm where Trudy was abused and called for tough legislation over inspection and licensing for private owners of wild animals. Sir David said any law that could mean Trudy returning to "the unspeakable conditions" that she had previously suffered was "inhumane" and "intolerable".

Mr Cronin greeted the announcement from Mary Chipperfield Promotions with caution, saying he had yet to receive confirmation on Trudy's future. He said he would be meeting Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, to put forward the view of the public who had shown their support by donating around pounds 25,000 to the Trudy Defence Fund.