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
Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
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

Teaching Assistant

£40 - £50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a TA/LSA looking for...

SEN Teacher

SEN QTS ASD MLD PLMD SLD: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special education...

DT Teacher - Textiles

£100 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We urgently require a DT t...

Year 1 Teacher for long term roles starting in September

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week