Custody fight for battered chimp

A CUSTODY BATTLE over an orphaned chimpanzee abused by Mary Chipperfield began yesterday when the animal's new guardians launched a national campaign to keep her.

Trudy has spent the last nine months with a surrogate monkey family at a sanctuary in Dorset. But Chipperfield, convicted on 12 counts of cruelty to the animal at Andover, Hampshire, says the chimpanzee she calls her "baby" should be returned because it is owned neither by her nor her husband, Roger Cawley, but their company, Mary Chipperfield Promotions Limited.

Video footage at the trial showed Chipperfield beating the chimp with a riding crop,Trudy was fed scraps and spent up to 14 hours a day in a box.

Trudy's new guardian, Jim Cronin, director of Monkey World in Wareham, said: "I have launched a defence fund to keep Trudy with her family. I have been overwhelmed by the public's reaction, we have had them crying down the phone all morning." Animal Defenders, the group that shot the videos, is campaigning to keep Trudy at the sanctuary.