Two chimpanzees escaped a Las Vegas backyard and rampaged through a neighborhood on Thursday, pounding on cars and jumping into at least one vehicle before police shot one dead and tranquilized the other, authorities said.
No people were hurt, but police said they had no choice but to kill after the agitated animals escaped their enclosure a about 10am and started running through yards and opening car doors in a neighborhood of horse pens, palm trees and tile-roofed, landscaped homes.
Resident David Plunkett said he saw the male chimpanzee jump on top of a police car — with its lights on and an officer inside — before the animal jumped to the ground and headed into a vacant lot.
“We tried to establish a perimeter until the experts arrived,” Las Vegas police spokesman Marcus Martin said. “But at least for the first animal, they couldn’t get there in time.”
The Las Vegas chimps were on the loose for about 30 minutes with police trying to corral them before a male primate believed to weigh more than 68kg was shot and killed. The other chimp, a female, was shot with a tranquilizer dart, but continued to roam the area for several more minutes before she was hit with a second dart.
She succumbed in neighbor Tony Paolone’s backyard. Martin said she was returned to her cage shortly after noon.
“They got out, and the police did what they had to do,” said Paolone, a paving company worker who was at work during the commotion and was prevented for a time from returning to his house while police investigated afterward.
Paolone said he knew the chimps lived behind a home on his street for several years. He said he never saw them loose and he never felt threatened.
“We have an exotic animals policy. It’s to treat them as humanely as we can,” Martin said. “But immediately you recall the woman who has no face because of a chimp. The officer knew they were dangerous animals and he was the last line of defense with citizens behind him.”
Martin referred to a 2009 attack on a woman who was permanently blinded and when her nose, lips, eyelids and hands were mauled by a chimp before police killed the animal outside a home in Stamford, Connecticut.