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Primate Attacks

Source: Circuses.com

Animal Attacks: Primates

The following is a partial listing of incidents involving captive primates between 1990 and 2002. These incidents resulted in the killing of 450 primates, two human deaths, and more than 140 human injuries. Contact PETA for documentation.


September 10, 2002/Northwest Montana: A "pet" macaque taken to malls bit at least three people. One incident occurred at a restaurant, a second at a fruit stand, and a third at the owner's residence. The monkey was quarantined and two victims went for medical treatment.

September 8, 2002/Hillsboro, Ore.: A female rhesus macaque escaped from the Oregon National Primate Research Center while being transferred between buildings. Police warned area residents not to approach the animal. She was recaptured two days later.

August 7, 2002/Racine, Minn.: A volunteer at BEARCAT Hollow animal park was attacked by a monkey as she entered the cage. The monkey grabbed her hair and bit her on the finger. The volunteer needed five stitches and rabies shots.

June 23, 2002/Magnolia, Texas: A "pet" Java macaque attacked and bit a 9-year-old boy and a woman and severely scratched a firefighter, sending all three to the hospital for treatment.

May 13, 2002/Frankfort, Ind.: A lemur jumped on and scratched a keeper's arm as she retrieved a food dish from the monkey's cage at a petting zoo at the TPA park. The keeper needed seven stitches in her arm and the monkey was quarantined.

April 3, 2002/Honolulu, Hawaii: A Honolulu Zoo employee was attacked by a siamang gibbon as she cleaned the animal's sleeping area. The woman suffered cuts and bites to both legs and received 45 stitches.

March 31, 2002/Japan: A "pet" monkey escaped from his cage and bit two people. The monkey was later captured by police in Seto.

January 10, 2002/Knox County, Tenn.: A "pet" Japanese snow macaque escaped from a backyard cage and attacked a neighbor, biting his back and hand.

September 10, 2001/Danville, N.H.: A search party was organized after at least 10 monkey sightings were reported, including by the fire chief. The monkey, believed to be an escaped "pet," was seen running across streets and into bushes and was described as being 8 feet long from his tail to his hands. Experts fear that the monkey will perish if not captured before winter.

July 27, 2001/Martinsburg, W.Va.: A "pet" monkey kept in a trailer park, believed to be a rhesus macaque, escaped and bit two children and a teenager. The bite victims underwent testing for herpes, tuberculosis, HIV, and other conditions.

June 29, 2001/Tunneys Pasture, Ottawa, Canada: Health Canada officials announced that at least two laboratory workers contracted simian foamy virus from macaque monkeys used at the Sir Frederick Grant Banting Research Centre.

June 16, 2001/Mexico: Actor Salma Hayek suffered nerve and ligament damage after she was attacked and bitten on the hands, arms, and fingers by a capuchin monkey on a movie set.

June 14, 2001/Seattle, Wash.: Woodland Park Zoo officials euthanized a 20-year-old lion-tailed macaque who tested positive for the herpes B virus.

June 9, 2001/Omaha, Neb.: A squirrel monkey roaming freely and mingling with zoo visitors in an exhibit at Henry Doorly Zoo bit a womans finger, causing an infection, after she offered the animal a cookie.

May 12, 2001/Lakeland, Fla.: Health officials searched in vain for a woman who brought a "pet" monkey on a leash to a festival after the monkey bit and scratched a man on the arm. The man was treated for herpes B for fear that he might have contracted the deadly virus.

April 19, 2001/Jefferson County, Mo.: Three chimpanzees with Chimparty, a company owned by Connie and Mike Casey that supplies primates for parties and TV commercials, escaped from an unlocked cage. A teenage boy shot and killed one of the chimpanzees.

April 3, 2001/Budapest, Hungary: Two chimpanzees escaped from their cages in a traveling circus and went on a rampage, terrorizing residents and attacking two people. One chimpanzee was cornered in a courtyard, and the other knocked himself out when he ran into a glass door.

February 19, 2001/Stevensville, Canada: A 6-year-old girl had a portion of her index finger bitten off by a spider monkey at a petting zoo.

December 2, 2000/Oklahoma City, Okla.: A 5-year-old "pet" capuchin, who was taken on a shopping trip to Home Depot, attacked and bit a teenage shopper on the leg.

October 17, 2000/France: French authorities reported that increasing numbers of dangerous and uncontrollable Barbary macaques were being abandoned by their owners and left to roam. An estimated 500 Barbary apes had been smuggled into the country in the previous two years to keep as "pets" or attack animals.

September 29, 2000/Tulsa, Okla.: A 4-year-old girl required hospital treatment after she was bitten or scratched on the cheek by a monkey brought to a motel.

September 25, 2000/Maryville, Tenn.: A girl was treated at a hospital for a bite wound to her arm inflicted by her stepfathers "pet" Japanese snow macaque.

September 23, 2000/Jarratt, Va.: Three escaped monkeys threw fruit at vehicles traveling the interstate. After police arrived at the scene, the monkeys dashed across the interstate and disappeared into the woods.

August 15, 2000/Sprague, W.Va.: A "pet" chimpanzee escaped from his cage for three hours, biting a teenager on the hand and biting a neighbor who had tried to restrain the 150-pound animal. The same chimpanzee had escaped in July 1998 and attacked a postal truck, forcing the driver to flee and causing the truck to crash.

August 12, 2000/Jessamine County, Ky.: A woman who was eight months pregnant was hospitalized after one of her two "pet" rhesus macaques suddenly turned violent while her cage was being cleaned and bit the womans nose. The woman was given an anti-viral medication, which was a hazard to her pregnancy, in case the monkey tested positive for herpes B. She had been inspired to purchase "pet" monkeys when, as a child, she saw monkeys riding bicycles in a circus.

August 8, 2000/San Angelo, Texas: A capuchin "went crazy" and bit his owner. The owner shot the monkey seven or eight times, killing him. This is the same monkey who bit a neighbor on January 9, 1998.

August 3, 2000/Southwest Ranches, Fla.: A "pet" spider monkey escaped from his cage and attacked two teenage girls. The girls were treated at the hospital for scratch and bite wounds to their faces, heads, and arms. The monkey was captured the next day. The same monkey had attacked a woman six months earlier.

August 1, 2000/Dover, Wis.: A "pet" Japanese macaque got loose and attacked two people. The monkey grabbed a neighbor around the waist and inflicted four bite wounds to the leg. Moments later, the monkey bit a postal carrier on the hand. The monkey was captured and killed.

July 24, 2000/Dallas, Texas: A chimpanzee was electrocuted after escaping from her habitat at the Dallas Zoo. She scratched a zookeeper, who required hospital treatment, and climbed a telephone pole. The zookeeper fired at the chimpanzee with a shotgun, and a veterinarian fired a tranquilizer at the animal, causing her to fall. She was electrocuted as she grabbed for a power line.

July 18, 2000/Jefferson City, Mo.: A 7-year-old boy, riding his bicycle, was attacked by a neighbors "pet" rhesus macaque, who jumped from a tree and bit the boy's arm. The child was subjected to a two-month ordeal involving doctors, needles, tests, and the fear of contracting the deadly herpes virus.

July 13, 2000/Ishikawa, Okinawa: A "pet" Japanese macaque escaped from his cage and attacked two people. One man was in serious condition after the monkey severed one of his arteries.

June 1, 2000/Columbia, Md.: An escaped 2_-foot-tall spider monkey chased a woman who had just stepped outside her home and bit her on the thigh, then ran away.

May 2000/Tulsa, Okla.: A monkey bit a boy in a pet store.

April 9, 2000/Franklin, Tenn.: A chimpanzee named Angel, brought by Sid Yost (also known as Ranger Rick Kelly) to Blockbuster Video for photo ops and to promote a Critter Gitter movie, fiercely bit a 9-year-old girl on the hand after posing for a photograph. The girls hand swelled and required stitches. Yost left the state before the chimpanzee could be quarantined and was issued a citation for violating Tennessees exotic animal law. Yost failed to show up in court and never paid the fine. The girls parents filed a $50,000 lawsuit against Yost, Critter Gitters, and Blockbuster, claiming that the defendants should have been aware of the danger inherent in subjecting Angel to a crowded area with so many children. None of the parties named in the lawsuit offered to pay for medical expenses.

March 28, 2000/Stirlingshire, Scotland: A colony of 89 rhesus macaques was shot dead at the Blair Drummond Safari Park after they were found to have herpes B. The monkeys were famous for clambering over cars and tourist buses.

March 21, 2000/West Midland, England: A colony of 130 rhesus macaques was shot dead at West Midlands Safari and Leisure Park after they were found to have herpes B.

March 3, 2000/London, England: A colony of 215 rhesus macaques was shot dead at the Woburn Safari Park in central England after routine medical tests showed that 11 were infected with herpes B. In 1999, Britains health authorities upgraded the seriousness of herpes B to the same level as hemorrhagic fevers Ebola and Lassa.

February 13, 2000/Lansing, Ill.: A "pet" Java macaque attacked his owner, inflicting 6-inch-deep bites and cuts on her head, arms, and legs and causing her to lose a pint and a half of blood. She underwent three hours of surgery and 12 weeks of physical therapy. The monkey was killed for rabies tests.

January 14, 2000/Palm Harbor, Fla.: A "pet" spider monkey escaped from a backyard cage and attacked a dog being walked by a neighbor. The dog went into shock and suffered serious artery and tendon damage.

December 28, 1999/Des Moines, Iowa: A rhesus macaque found wandering the streets on November 23, 1999, bit an animal control officer.

December 15, 1999/Rancho Bernardo, Calif.: An escaped 3-foot-tall spider monkey led police on a two-hour chase, frightened residents, and bit a police officer.

November 11, 1999/Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: A "pet" monkey ran amok and twice invaded an elementary school, biting three students on their arms and legs.

November 1, 1999/Euless, Texas: A "pet" capuchin monkey attacked and bit an elderly woman.

October 4, 1999/Evansville, Ind.: A child was bitten on his finger by a macaque at Mesker Park Zoo. Two of the zoos six macaque monkeys selected at random tested positive for the herpes B virus.

September 14, 1999/ Yokohama, Japan: A Japanese macaque escaped from a steel cage in a pet store and attacked two children.

September 1, 1999/West Covina, Calif.: A "pet" chimpanzee bit off the fingertip of a woman visiting the owners home. This is the same chimpanzee who attacked four people on August 19, 1998.

August 5, 1999/Bellevue, Neb.: A police officer was sent to the hospital after a macaque with a history of biting people bit him on the leg.

July 31, 1999/Kissimmee, Fla.: A "pet" capuchin escaped and attacked a boy, scratching his leg. The monkey bit one police officer on the leg and pulled the hair of another before he was recaptured.

June 20, 1999/Philadelphia, Pa.: An orangutan at the Philadelphia Zoo escaped from the exhibit he was in and ran loose in the zoo for 25 minutes before he was tranquilized by a veterinarian.

May 11, 1999/Idaho Falls, Idaho: A woman went to the hospital after a caged "pet" monkey bit her.

April 15, 1999/Punta Gorda Isles, Fla.: A police officer used a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot and kill a 2-foot-tall rhesus macaque. The monkey had been running loose and acting aggressively toward residents for a month.

April 1, 1999/Glen Burnie, Md.: A 2-year-old Bonnett macaque bit a woman on the lip at a tavern, touching off a brawl in which two other people were bitten. Animal control had on file instances of seven other people who had been bitten or scratched by the 9-pound "pet" monkey. The owners ignored animal control orders not to take the monkey out in public. One of the injured parties filed a $25,000 lawsuit.

March 3, 1999/Bristol, England: Two 7-inch "pet" marmosets were turned over to the RSPCA after they terrorized and attacked a family, causing cuts to arms, legs, and hands and ripping apart the kitchen.

February 27, 1999/Salt Lake City, Utah: Two chimpanzees at the Hogle Zoo attacked two employees. One worker was in critical condition after losing part of his nose and a finger. The two chimpanzees were shot with a shotgun and later killed.

January 14, 1999/Singapore: A truck driver underwent surgery on his finger and was hospitalized for three days after he was bitten while capturing a tamarin who had been released from a zoo.

January 13, 1999/Hillsborough, Fla.: A "pet" capuchin attacked her owner, biting her 50 times on the hands and legs.

November 1, 1998/Euless, Texas: A spider monkey bit a student at an elementary school.

October 4, 1998/Slidell, La.: An escaped "pet" vervet ran wild in a house, knocking over a lamp and attacking two women, biting one on the arm and slashing the legs of another with teeth and claws. A police officer responding to the frantic 911 call was also attacked. The monkey threw a picture frame at him, then jumped on and bit him. Both women needed stitches. The monkey was killed.

August 19, 1998/West Covina, Calif.: A "pet" chimpanzee escaped from his cage and went berserk, biting four people and denting a police car with his fists during a three-hour rampage. One officer required three surgeries on his hand at a cost of $250,000.

July 6, 1998/Sprague, W.Va.: A "pet" chimpanzee escaped from his enclosure and attacked a postal truck, forcing the driver to flee and causing the truck to crash.

May 18, 1998/Narbonne, France: Chimpanzees escaped from their enclosure at a wild animal park and attacked construction workers. One worker was mauled so badly that he needed 30 stitches on his face and neck.

May 1, 1998/Wichita, Kan.: A macaque bit a child and a teenager at a store during a promotional event.

April 26, 1998/Rishon Le-Zion, Israel: A monkey escaped from his cage at the Hai-Kef Zoo in Rishon Le-Zion and attacked an 18-year-old employee, biting his arms, face, and back. Medics said that the mans face was barely recognizable and that his hands had been bitten off. Police killed the monkey.

April 13, 1998/Atlanta, Ga.: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that four lab workers who handled monkeys had become infected with monkey viruses.

April 8, 1998/Beirut, Lebanon: A monkey escaped from his cage in an amusement park and bit four people. Police shot and killed the monkey.

February 27, 1998/Sibu, Malaysia: A 3-year-old girl was hospitalized with injuries to her head, face, eyes, upper lip, and thigh after she was attacked by a "pet" monkey who had broken loose from his chain. Two boys beat the monkey to death with a piece of wood.

January 9, 1998/San Angelo, Texas: A "pet" capuchin bit a 19-year-old neighbor man, who underwent rabies shots.

January 5, 1998/Madison, Wis.: Henry Vilas Zoo announced that its 150 macaques had been exposed to herpes B and one-third of them were infectious carriers and were considered to pose a public health risk.

December 28, 1997/Charlotte County, Fla.: A 6-year-old visiting Octagon Exotics was attacked by a caged baboon, who pulled out chunks of her hair and attempted to bite her.

December 10, 1997/Atlanta, Ga.: A Yerkes primate researcher died of herpes B after she was splashed in the eye with bodily fluids from a rhesus macaque.

October 6, 1997/South Barrington, Ill.: A baboon at a petting zoo bit a 4-year-old girl.

August 15, 1997/Elburn, Ill.: A baboon with a traveling zoo scratched a 15-year-old girls leg during a parade.

August 8, 1997/Hartford, Conn.: A "pet" Java macaque got away while being taken for a walk and attacked an elderly neighbor woman, grabbing her hair and biting her arm.

July 12, 1997/Glen Burnie, Md.: A 6-year-old girl who had been bitten in the face by a "pet" Bonnett macaque while at a carnival was treated at a nearby hospital for her wound and received six shots to her face, arms, and legs.

July 7, 1997/Bridgton, Maine: State game wardens seized a "pet" squirrel monkey after the animal bit and scratched a woman standing in a supermarket checkout line.

June 29, 1997/Bourbonnais, Ill.: A vervet with a traveling zoo bit a 3-year-old girl in the face at a festival.

June 5, 1997/Beirut, Lebanon: An escaped "pet" monkey spread panic in two schools where two children and a teacher were bitten. The monkey was shot dead by police.

June 4, 1997/Montral, Qubec: A leashed monkey grabbed the leg of a passerby and bit her on the knee. Wildlife officials reported that the monkey had bitten at least six people recently.

March 1, 1997/Houston, Texas: An 8-year-old capuchin turned on his owner and nearly killed her, severing her thumb and part of her index finger and slicing her legs.

September 28, 1996/Los Angeles, Calif.: Actor Elizabeth Hurley reeled back in shock when she was bitten on the ear by a chimpanzee while appearing on Jay Lenos Tonight Show.

September 22, 1996/Palm Beach, Fla.: A pigtailed macaque who tested positive for herpes B bit a 4-year-old girl on the shoulder while he was being taken for a walk. The "pet" monkey had been kissed and held by hundreds of people. Authorities confiscated the animal.

September 20, 1996/New Delhi, India: A monkey mauled a zookeeper to death at the Alipore zoo. The keepers jugular veins were severed in the attack.

May 18, 1996/Staten Island, N.Y.: Four heavily armed emergency service police officers chased a capuchin monkey through a residential neighborhood for 45 minutes. The monkey escaped, fleeing into woods near the Staten Island mall.

April 6, 1996/Alice, Texas: Two monkeys imported into a research facility were infected with the deadly Ebola virus. One monkey died and the other was killed.

March 24, 1996/Gainesville, Fla.: Residents were warned not to catch, feed, or touch a rhesus macaque exposed to the herpes B virus who had escaped from a research farm.

February 28, 1996/Metairie, La.: A "pet" vervet was impounded after biting an animal control officer during a home inspection. The monkey had earlier scratched the owners 2-year-old son.

February 22, 1996/Hong Kong, China: A starving monkey bit a handler while his cage was being cleaned. The handler received seven stitches to his legs. The monkey was one of six monkeys, 15 tigers, and 10 horses with a Russian circus that ran out of money and could no longer feed the animals.

February 1, 1996/Bridgton, Maine: The same squirrel monkey who attacked a woman on July 7, 1997, in a supermarket bit a child during a school demonstration.

November 14, 1995/Acadiana, La.: A zoo worker at the Zoo of Acadiana was viciously attacked and bitten on the leg by a monkey who escaped during a medical exam. The employee was off work for several days with an infected leg.

September 8, 1995/Royal Oak, Mich.: The owner of a 3-year-old spider monkey received 17 stitches in his lower lip after the monkey attacked him.

July 16, 1995/Los Angeles, Calif.: A Los Angeles Zoo volunteer was placing popcorn in the monkey exhibit when a monkey mauled her. She sustained lacerations, puncture wounds, and deep cuts, leaving her disfigured and permanently disabled. A lawsuit was filed against the zoo.

July 14, 1995/Scarborough, Toronto: A man was hospitalized after being bitten in the leg by a neighbors spider monkey.

June 3, 1995/Hollidaysburg, Pa.: An escaped "pet" monkey grabbed a kitchen knife and cigarette lighter, holding police at bay for nearly two hours. The monkey ran through the house and bit two women. Animal control caught the monkey with a snare. The monkey later died in a cage.

January 1, 1995/Kansas City, Mo.: A "pet" chimpanzee bit a 7-year-old girl, causing her to have to undergo rabies treatment. Authorities had received numerous complaints that the chimpanzee ran loose and had attacked several people.

November 30, 1994/Boca Raton, Fla.: A 5-inch "pet" marmoset, smuggled into a restaurant in a bag, escaped and bit a diner on the ear.

November 11, 1994/San Francisco, Calif.: The San Francisco Zoo alerted area residents to be on the watch for an escaped patas monkey.

August 20, 1994/Tulane, La.: Residents began calling authorities after spotting monkeys near their homes. The monkeys were among 28 pigtailed macaques who had escaped from the Delta Regional Primate Research Center.

August 9, 1994/Surprise, Ariz.: A 4-year-old boy developed an eye infection after being bitten and scratched by two macaques. The boys mother had obtained the monkeys as "pets" three weeks earlier.

August 2, 1994/Knoxville, Tenn.: Residents were warned that an escaped "pet" spider monkey might bite. The animal got loose in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

August 2, 1994/New Smyrna Beach, Fla.: Five Japanese macaques donated to Ashby Acres Wildlife Park by the Pittsburgh Zoo were found to be infected with herpes B.

June 30, 1994/Phoenix, Ariz.: A "pet" Java macaque escaped from his backyard cage and ran throughout a residential neighborhood for 17 hours before he was recaptured.

February 1, 1994/Kansas City, Mo.: A "pet" chimpanzee jumped on and bit a man, causing injuries that needed medical treatment.

December 14, 1993/Belleville, Ontario: A Japanese macaque carrying a virus that could harm humans was found after escaping from an animal shelter 10 days earlier.

August 26, 1993/Johannesburg, South Africa: A vervet infected with a virus was found one week after escaping from a university laboratory.

July 11, 1993/Rolling Meadows, Ill.: A leashed guenon grabbed an 11-year-old girls leg and inflicted three bite wounds that required stitches. Animal control had tried unsuccessfully to confiscate the monkey years earlier, after police alleged that the animal had bitten several people.

July 9, 1993/Niagara, N.Y.: A man was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where he received stitches to close bite wounds from his "pet" patas monkey.

June 20, 1993/Tel Aviv, Israel: An escaped "pet" macaque darted into a neighbors home and caused a ruckus. The family fled and called police. An officer was bitten on the arm while attempting to catch the animal.

December 15, 1992/Kiryat Motzkin/Israel: A 10-year-old boy was bitten by one of two monkeys who escaped from a childrens zoo.

November 4, 1992/Jerusalem, Israel: A 14-month-old baby was seriously bitten and scratched in a public park by a monkey who had escaped from a cage.

August 24, 1992/Inman, S.C.: A 78-year-old woman hanging sheets on a clothesline in her backyard was attacked twice by one of three chimpanzees who had escaped from Hollywild Animal Park. The woman was repeatedly knocked to the ground and rolled around by the 100-pound chimp. She was treated for minor injuries at a medical center.

July 15, 1992/New York, N.Y.: A leashed monkey slapped and scratched a subway clerk on the head when a man attempted to bring him into the subway station.

July 6, 1992/Miami, Fla.: Police warned area residents of rogue rhesus and Java macaques who had bitten a toddler, attacked a police officer, and terrorized a suburban parking lot. One monkey was shot and killed.

May 8, 1992/Norcross, Ga.: A 2-year-old squirrel monkey kept in a cage at a pet shop bit a teenager.

February 1, 1992/Fashion Island, Calif.: A "pet" monkey belonging to a man accused of trying to sell tiger and lion cubs from the back of a convertible bit a woman.

July 25, 1991/Jefferson, Ark.: An animal handler filed a $100 million claim against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services because he allegedly contracted a deadly virus when he was scratched by a macaque while working at the National Center for Toxicological Research.

October 23, 1990/St. Petersburg, Fla.: An escaped "pet" capuchin ran into a neighbors home, grabbed food in the kitchen, darted outside, and bit a woman as she grabbed him.

July 7, 1990/Southeast Portland, Ore.: Two leashed and collared chimpanzees went out of control during a Circus Gatti performance. They dragged the trainer into the stands and pulled a child from her seat and onto the arena floor, then mauled her.


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