Woman savaged by zoo chimp 'not angry'

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE STUDENT whose right finger and thumb were bitten off by a chimpanzee said yesterday that she was not angry with the animal.

Doctors were unable to re-attach Angelique Todd's index finger and thumb, torn off by Bustah, a 33-year-old chimp, at Port Lympne Zoo Park near Folkestone, Kent, on Sunday.

But after a five-hour operation, Ms Todd, 25, a former keeper at the zoo, which is owned by the millionaire John Aspinall, said: 'I'm not angry with Bustah. He must have got over-excited. It won't stop me working with primates.'

Ms Todd, a post-graduate primatology student at Manchester University, still hopes to go to Africa to study gorillas. She was injured when Bustah made a sudden grab at her sleeve as she fed him and pulled her arm through the bars of his cage.

Microsurgery specialists at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, West Sussex, worked for five hours on her torn hand and forearm.

Five years ago, two-year-old Matthew McDaid of New Eltham, south London, lost an arm when he tried to stroke Bustah after reaching through security barriers.

Bustah was not in his cage yesterday and was said to be undergoing medical tests before being sent to a wildlife park in South Africa, where he is due to retire in the next few days.

Ms Todd's father, Graham, said yesterday that his daughter was savaged by Bustah for several minutes before a member of the public managed to distract the chimp so that he let her go.

An ambulance took her to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent, and she was then flown by helicopter to the Queen Victoria Hospital.

Mr Todd said: 'We are very proud of her courage and determination. Despite this incident she has no intention of giving up her study of primates.'

He said his daughter still planned to visit the Congo to help re-establish captive gorillas in the wild on a new reserve being set up by Mr Aspinall.