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HSUS Statement in Response to Las Vegas Chimpanzee Escape

Tragedy underscores need for state and local legislation regulating ownership of dangerous wild animals as pets

Holly Haley, The Humane Society of the United States’ Nevada state director, is issuing the following statement in response to yesterday’s escape of CJ, a chimpanzee whose companion Buddy was shot and killed on July 12 when both broke out of a poorly secured backyard cage in a northwest Las Vegas residential area and ran amok:

“The same chimpanzee escaping twice in less than a month underscores that large, powerful exotic animals should not be kept as pets. Nevada is one of just six states with no rules on the private ownership of dangerous wild animals, and it’s a free-for-all that puts people and animals at risk. It’s sheer luck that no citizens or tourists were harmed during the two recent chimp escapes, and it’s a wake-up call that both Clark County and the state of Nevada need strong policies on the books.

These situations present a serious public safety risk, and there are never good outcomes for the animals involved. Senator Michael Roberson, R-Clark County, is leading the effort to protect public safety and animal welfare and turn this situation around. He is working to draft a bill for the 2013 legislative session that would prohibit future private ownership of dangerous, wild animals. Nevada legislators must act with great haste to prevent future tragedies.” 

While it appears that no humans were harmed in this second escape, the risk of keeping primates as pets has been illustrated time and time again, including the 2009 attack by a pet chimpanzee who inflicted catastrophic and disfiguring injuries on a Connecticut woman. Taxpayers will likely foot the bill for the massive police responses needed to protect public safety when these powerful, dangerous animals escape.


  • Since 1990, more than 200 people – including dozens of children – have been injured by captive primates, and many more incidents likely went unreported. Primates also pose disease risks, including transmission of tuberculosis and herpes-B virus.
  • Nevada is one of only six states that has no law pertaining to the private possession of dangerous wild animals. Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently signed a new state law banning the acquisition of primates and other dangerous exotic animals as pets.
  • The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society of Primatologists, and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians oppose the private possession of primates.

Media Contact: Heather Sullivan; 240-477-2251, hsullivan@humanesociety.org


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.