CJ the chimp could be the “poster child” of why exotic animals should not be kept as pets. For the second time in a month, the chimpanzee escaped from her enclosure at a private home in Las Vegas, NV and had to be tranquilized. CJ and her mate Buddy made an earlier escape in July. Police shot and killed Buddy after he charged at neighbors.
On July 12, Buddy and 13-year-old CJ (Calamity Jane) broke free from their backyard enclosure and roamed a neighborhood, pounding on cars and climbing inside one of them. Animal control officers shot both chimpanzees with tranquilizer darts, but it didn’t stop Buddy. A police officer finally shot and killed the chimp.
The duo apparently got loose after Buddy broke through a pair of double gates on the enclosure. A welder was on his way to fix the gates hinges, when the chimps left the property.
During CJ’s second escape, the 180-pound chimpanzee strolled through her neighborhood and stopped to play with a garden hose. She only became agitated when she recognized the animal control officer and his tranquilizer gun. After being shot, CJ walked with her caretaker to a nearby home and fell asleep.
A local animal entertainer took custody of CJ in his more elaborate animal habitat until she could be relocated to a sanctuary. Wednesday the director of Chimps Inc. from Bend, Oregon arrived to take CJ to her permanent new home where she will live with seven other primates.
The incident has motivated state officials and animal welfare groups to call for stricter rules on keeping exotic pets.
“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, said Holly Haley, the Humane Society Nevada state director.
After the first escape CJ’s caretakers, Timmi De Rosa and her fiance' Lee Watkinson were cited for “noncompliance” issues by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Inspectors said a joint between a block wall had been damaged and the main gate around the animal’s enclosure wasn’t locked. The couple could be fined up to $1,000.
De Rosa and Watkinson both say they do not own CJ. They say they were caring for the chimp and her mate at the home of a neighbor. The original owner bought the pair from a Texas breeder.
“We don’t think people should own chimps. We found these chimps in a horrible condition six years ago,” said De Rosa. They built what they thought was a safer and larger habitat for the animals.
The couple said they changed their entire lifestyle to take care of the chimpanzees.