Chimpanzee's owner suspects foul play in second escape
Another chimpanzee escape in Las Vegas. For the second time in a month CJ the chimp escapes. Video by ktnv.comvideo
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A chimpanzee's second escape in one month has her owner wondering if someone is to blame.
For the second time in a month, CJ the chimp escaped from her enclosure on Saturday. The chimpanzee was later captured by police and animal control officers.
Now, there are doubts about whether this latest escape was an accident.
"Everything was planned. She was going to have her going away party," said Timmi DeRosa, the chimpanzee's owner.
That party may be canceled, since CJ the chimp managed to escape her cage for the second time in about a month. Last time, her partner Buddy was shot and killed by police as he headed to a crowd of onlookers.
"They did not want to kill her. They did not want to kill Buddy," says DeRosa.
The latest escape happened Saturday just before 5 p.m. Metro officers set up a perimeter before animal control arrived and were able to shoot CJ with a tranquilizer. Police say the chimp pulled out the tranquilizer and walked into a nearby vacant home with her handler where she finally fell asleep.
"This looks like we're complete idiots. Like how the hell could the other chimpanzee get out?" asks DeRosa.
"Even from a weaker cage, I would never expect her to get out," says CJ's handler, Miguel Gutierrez.
It's those that know the animal and her behavior that are now wondering if someone was maliciously behind this second escape.
"We have gotten calls that people want to let CJ out so they can pass this law in Las Vegas, and I just hope to God that nobody tampered with the cage," says DeRosa.
Video of CJ's cage show three metal bars bent, but it is unclear whether the chimp bent the bars herself.
"This is going to change everything, because now they are saying that there's a whole different thing with legal stuff. Timmi might have to go to court," says Gutierrez.
Until an investigation is launched and a reason for the escape discovered, CJ will stay at a more secure location where she hopefully won't escape again.
Several agencies responded to the escape, including Metro, North Las Vegas police and Clark County Animal Control.
She was first taken to the Las Vegas Zoo, but Action News has learned that a private citizen will house the chimp on his property that has cages designed for larger animals. We understand he already works with large cats and can hold CJ for the time being.
This latest escape is renewing calls for stricter rules when it comes to exotic animals in residential neighborhoods. Right now, there aren't many rules here in Clark County, but some are pushing to change that.
County documents show that wild animals ranging from primates to lions live in at least 14 Clark County neighborhoods.
"Right now. you can have a wild animal .. that can be incredibly dangerous anywhere in Southern Nevada as long as you get a permit from Clark County. I'm going to try to stop that," says Republican state senator Michael Roberson.
He is vowing to push a ban in the legislature next session. In the meantime, county commissioners are also vowing action.
"We should do safeguards for now and then be prepared for something, which I would support from the legislature," says Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.
At an August 7 meeting, commissioners decided to start approving all exotic pet permits personally instead of letting the planning commission do it. They also want animal control to inspect the enclosures each year before those permits are renewed.
These efforts come too late for Buddy the chimp who was shot dead by police during that July 12 escape. Plans were already in the works to move CJ to a sanctuary in Oregon before she escaped again.
"It's just a tragedy when a chimpanzee and monkey a tiger, lion or whatever, if they escape, it's just dangerous.... It's so important that they're in a safe place," says Leslie Day, owner of that sanctuary.
CJ was supposed to be moved to that sanctuary in the coming weeks. There was no immediate word on whether the chimpanzee's latest escape will impact that plan.