Toilet-trained chimpanzee goes missing in Californian forest

A 42-year-old chimpanzee, who eats with a knife and fork but also bites humans, is at large in a southern California forest after escaping from his cage.

The owners of the chimp, called Moe, hope tracker dogs may be able to follow the scent from his blankets. The chimp was rescued from poachers in the Sixties by St James and LaDonna Davis. Moe was removed from the Davises after a series of biting incidents and sent to Jungle Exotics, which houses wild animals used in the film and television industry.

Moe escaped from his cage 12 days ago and is now believed to be hiding in the San Bernardino National Forest, which is east of Los Angeles. The Davises have begged the public not to approach the chimpanzee because he might become fearful and aggressive. In two incidents in 1998, Moe mauled a police officer's hand and bit off a woman's fingertip when she put her hand in his cage.

In 2005, Mr Davis was himself horribly injured while taking a birthday cake to Moe at another animal facility. Two other chimps who had escaped their cages nearly killed him when they chewed off his nose, testicles and foot and bit off chunks of his buttocks and legs. The sanctuary owner eventually shot the animals dead.

Mr Davis rescued Moe from Tanzania in 1967. The chimp was toilet-trained, taught to eat with a knife and fork, and even slept in their bed.

The couple broke down in tears at a press conference in Los Angeles. "What am I going to do?" said Ms Davis. "He meant the world to us," said her husband. "He was the best man at my wedding."