Chimp bites off student's finger at Aspinall zoo: Environmental health officials launch inquiry into second attack by 11-stone animal in five years

BUSTAH, an 11-stone chimpanzee, which bit and then tore off the left arm of a two-year-old boy five years ago, has bitten off the right thumb and index finger of a 25- year-old primatology student at John Aspinall's Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Hythe, Kent.

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.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York