Travis the chimpanzee, a veteran of TV commercials, was the constant companion of a lonely Connecticut widow who fed him steak, lobster and ice cream. He could eat at the table, drink wine from a stemmed glass, use the toilet, and dress and bathe himself.
He brushed his teeth with a Water Pik, logged on to a computer to look at photos and channel-surfed television with the remote control.
But on Monday, the wild animal in him came out with a vengeance.
The 200-pound animal viciously mauled a friend of his owner before being shot to death by police.
Investigators are trying to figure out why — whether it was a bout of Lyme disease, a reaction to drugs, or a case of instinct taking over.
In recordings of calls to 911 dispatchers released Tuesday, Travis' grunts can be heard as a frantic Herold cries that her pet is "eating" Nash and must be killed. The attack lasted about 12 minutes.
"The chimp killed my friend!" says a sobbing Herold, who was hiding in her vehicle. "Send the police with a gun. With a gun!"
The dispatcher later asks, "Who's killing your friend?"
"My chimpanzee!" she cries. "He ripped her apart! Shoot him, shoot him!"
After police arrive, one officer radios back: "There's a man down. He doesn't look good," he says, referring to Nash. "We've got to get this guy out of here. He's got no face."
Police said that Travis was agitated earlier Monday and that Herold had given him the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in some tea. Police said the drug had not been prescribed for the 14-year-old chimp.
In humans, Xanax can cause memory loss, lack of coordination, reduced sex drive and other side effects. It can also lead to aggression in people who were unstable to begin with, said Dr. Emil Coccaro, chief of psychiatry at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
"Xanax could have made him worse," if human studies are any indication, Coccaro said.
Stephen Rene Tello, executive director of Primarily Primates, a sanctuary for chimps in Texas, said it is difficult to say what effect Xanax would have on a chimp, but he noted that chimps and humans have similar physiology.
Investigators said they were also told that Travis had Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness with flu-like symptoms that can lead to arthritis and meningitis in humans.
"Maybe from the medications he was out of sorts," Stamford police Capt. Richard Conklin said.
From The AP: