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Chimp that mauled woman had Xanax in system

May 13, 2009 10:32:44 AM PDT
A chimpanzee that mauled a Connecticut woman had the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in its system, toxicology test results show, but investigators haven't determined whether the drug played a role in the attack, a prosecutor said Wednesday. Authorities are still weighing whether to file criminal charges against the chimpanzee's owner, Sandra Herold, said Stamford State's Attorney David Cohen.

The 200-pound chimp, named Travis, attacked Stamford resident Charla Nash on Feb. 16. She lost her hands, nose, lips and eyelids in the attack. Doctors at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic say she is blind and faces two years of surgical procedures.

Nash's family has sued Herold for $50 million. The suit alleges, among other things, that she had given Travis medication that further upset the animal.

Herold has made conflicting public statements about whether she gave Travis Xanax the day of the attack. Police say the drug was not prescribed for the animal.

Telephone messages left for attorneys representing Herold and Nash's family were not immediately returned.

Herold's attorneys have said there was no way to predict Travis would attack Nash.

On the day of the attack, Herold called Nash to her home to help lure the animal back into her house. Herold has speculated that the chimp was trying to protect her and attacked Nash because she had changed her hairstyle, was driving a different car and was holding a stuffed toy in front of her face to get Travis' attention.

The attack lasted about 12 minutes, and ended when police fatally shot Travis as he attempted to open a police cruiser's door.

Herold owned the 14-year-old chimp nearly all its life, dressed the animal and fed it human foods. When he was younger, Travis starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola, made an appearance on the "Maury Povich Show" and took part in a television pilot.


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