If you grew up in the 1960’s or watched television in the 1970’s, then you’ve seen them. Nature documentaries that depicted wild creatures as benign, gentle, loving souls. Many times these docs would end with the narrator pointing out, voice quivering with barely repressed scorn, that the natural world was free of all of the ills that plagued the more “advanced” human societies that were destroying it. Rape, war, murder, greed. All of these were absent in the breast of our wild-yet-more-noble cousins.
Except, of course, for insects because they made war on one another. But that was ignored in order to avoid spoiling the point.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time wandering through the wild places, watching what was going on around me. It’s with great confidence I can say that those documentaries were trying to pull a fast one.
Hobbs said it best, “Red in both tooth and claw.” Wild creatures are, you know, wild! The one thing that’s painfully obvious, just as soon as you get down to the nitty gritty, is that nature has no pity. In fact, shocking as it may be, there are some creatures out there which take great delight in murdering other creatures, including the occasional human.
I was strongly reminded of this when I came across this news story. It would seem that a man and his wife were viciously attacked by two escaped chimpanzees while they were visiting an animal sanctuary. After the woman lost her thumb, her husband moved to protect her. The animals then ignored their first victim and swarmed over him. He almost undoubtedly saved his wife’s life, but the price he paid for this act of bravery and self-sacrifice was horrific.
“St. James Davis, 62, lost all the fingers from both hands, an eye, part of his nose, cheek, lips and part of his buttocks in the ferocious attack, his wife said over the weekend on NBC’s “Today Show.” She also said one of his feet was mutilated. A Kern County Sheriff’s commander also said his genitals were mauled.”
The account above is actually rather reserved. This news item says that the chimps did more than “mutilate” or “maul” his foot and genitals. Instead they tore them off completely.
Keep in mind that these apes weren’t using tools or weapons. They did all of this with their teeth.
I was puzzled as to why this attack occurred until I read all the way to the bottom of the article. A pair of females, probably in heat, had also escaped from their cages. The male chimps acted the same way they would have in the wild when faced with a sexual rival. But why would a chimpanzee view a human being in such a way?
I can’t really be sure, but I think that Animal Haven Ranch, where the attack took place, is one of many places in the US which specializes in caring for exotic pets after they become too big and dangerous to be kept by their owners. I’m led to this conclusion because the Davis couple were there to visit a chimp that had been removed from their home after biting off part of another woman’s finger in 1999.
If the chimps which attacked Mr. Davis had been raised in captivity, if they’d been around humans for their entire lives, then they would essentially view humans as merely another ape. The facts would appear to support this.
I’ve been seeing incidents like this happening with greater frequency over the past two decades. People with more money than sense decide that it would be cool if they could keep an exotic pet, particularly tigers.
This has resulted in the rather odd fact that the there’s now three times as many captive tigers in the US than there are left in the wild. Sure, this means that the odds of their extinction, once a real concern, have abated a great deal. But it also means that innocent people might very well be at risk if one of these cats escapes.
What I find particularly puzzling is how law enforcement officials who are forced to protect lives by shooting these animals are then forced to defend their actions to the very people they’ve saved! Don’t the critics know what could have happened if the officer hadn’t shot the animal?
Call it a victory for 1970’s Leftist propaganda.
A measure that recently passed in the House entitled the Captive Wildlife Safety Act is geared towards restricting access to large wild cat species by private owners. It’s a good first step, but obviously it needs to now be enforced.
If anyone reading this is a rough-and-ready sort, then you might find my recommendations for guns I’d take camping to be of use. And for any of my regular readers who wandered over from my private blog: the chimps were put down by a .45 ACP handgun. Probably a 1911, I’m thinking.