Chimp bites off student's finger at Aspinall zoo: Environmental health officials launch inquiry into second attack by 11-stone animal in five years
Tuesday 12 April 1994
Angelique Todd, a former keeper at the zoo, was feeding three chimps at lunchtime on Sunday when Bustah, a 33-year-old male chimpanzee, grabbed her coat and pulled her arm into the cage.
She was taken to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford before being transferred to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex.
Ms Todd was feeding Bustah and two elderly female chimps voluntarily. She is keen to work with apes and chimps in Africa and has spent a lot of time at Port Lympne in the past three years as a volunteer and keeper. Yesterday a spokesman for the Queen Victoria Hospital said he was unable to say how she was because her parents had asked him not to comment on her condition.
Mike Lockyer, zoological director of Port Lympne and Howlett's Zoo, Mr Aspinall's other zoo near Canterbury, said that Ms Todd had been throughly trained and was considered a competent person to feed the chimps. He added that there might have been 'an element of human error' - she might, for example, have been concentrating on one animal rather than another.
He said fully mature male chimpanzees were 'highly dangerous'. They are seven times stronger than a human, have lightning reactions and a very volatile temperament. It was quite wrong to think of them as the cuddly creatures portrayed in P G Tips advertisements.
In March 1989, Matthew McDaid, of New Eltham, south London, ducked under a safety chain at the zoo and got so close to Bustah's cage that the chimp pulled his arm off. While John and Frances McDaid comforted their son, Bustah prowled around with the limb until keepers retrieved it by sedating the chimp with a tranquilliser dart.
Matthew, now 7, lost his left arm and has difficulty doing up buttons and zips, cutting his food, holding things and playing sport. His parents are suing Mr Aspinall, an animal lover and casino owner, for negligence because they argue that the safety barriers were not adequate.
Mr Lockyer said that there was a world of difference between the two incidents involving Bustah. One involved a fully trained adult authorised to be feeding the chimps, the other involved a child in the wrong place outside a public viewing area.
Mrs McDaid said yesterday that there was 'no way he (Matthew) should have been allowed to get that near. It was negligence on the zoo's part to let him get anywhere near there'. She conceded that the latest incident involving Ms Todd, a former keeper, did not, however, appear to be comparable.
Over the past 25 years there have been a number of incidents at Mr Aspinall's zoos in Kent. In 1980, two keepers were killed by a Siberian tigress in separate incidents at Howletts and in 1984 another keeper was crushed to death by a bull elephant at Port Lympne.
The latest mauling at Port Lympne is being investigated by environmental health officers at Shepway District Council. Mr Aspinall, who was at Howletts yesterday, was not available for comment.
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 3 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 How much sex should I be having?
Ed Miliband returns to the backbenches but it's all a bit awkward as he tries to avoid eye-contact with fellow Labour MPs
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
Isis tortures 14-year-old Syrian boy and films it in graphic video for 'propaganda purposes'
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working within the workshop of ...
£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist high tech compa...