Travis the chimpanzee was a primate that lived from 1995 to 2009 when he was fatally shot. Prior to his death, the chimp was famous for exhibiting human skills that no other animal would. Unfortunately, in 2009, Travis attacked and badly bruised his owner’s neighbor, Charla Nash, leaving her severely disfigured. Here are some wild Travis the chimpanzee facts.

1. Travis Was an Animal Actor

Born in 1995, Travis the chimpanzee was a trained animal actor who made several appearances in commercials and TV shows. He featured in programs such as The Man Show and The Maury Povich Show, which were famous in the early 2000s.

2. He Displayed Amazing Human Skills

Travis the Chimpanzee was famous because he displayed high-level human techniques. He would water plants, feed horses, dress himself, open doors with keys, drink from a stemmed glass, and show excellent culinary skills. Unbelievably, Travis could boot and use a computer, take pictures, operate a remote-controlled TV, and was a baseball fan.

3. Travis’ Parents Were Imported from Africa

While Travis the chimpanzee was born in Festus, Missouri, his parents, Suzy and Coco, were imported from Africa in the 70s. Three days after his birth, a breeder took him away before he was later bought by Sandra and Jerome Herold for $50,000.

4. The Chimp Got His Name from a Musician

After purchasing the chimp, Sandra and Jerome Herold named him after Sandra’s favorite Country Music singer, Travis Tritt. The new owners raised Travis at their property in Stamford, Connecticut.

5. Travis’ Owner Was Obsessed with Him

Unfortunately, Sandra lost her child in a car crash in 2000 before losing her husband, Jerome, four years later. She was left with Travis, whom she pampered and treasured to the last day. According to Sandra, they would eat, sleep, and bathe together daily. In her words, “Until you’ve eaten with a chimp and bathed with a chimp, you don’t know a chimp.”

6. He Was In the Habit of Greeting Police Officers

Travis’ owners had a towing company; they regularly accompanied each other to work. Travis occasionally posed for photos at the store dressed in his trademark baseball shirt. Whenever the Herolds had a gig, they, together with Travis, would ride around town. Travis was famous for greeting traffic law enforcers whenever they met.

7. Travis Once Held Traffic for Hours

Apparently, among the many “human” qualities that Travis the chimp had was road rage. In 2003, as Travis and Jerome Herold were taking their usual trips around town, someone threw an empty soda bottle at their car, striking the chimp.

Travis angrily unbuckled his seatbelt, opened the car door, and chased after the perpetrator (the incident happened at a traffic light stop, so the vehicles were stationary). The next hours were spent trying to lure Travis back into the car; he even charged at the police who had arrived at the scene. This incident prompted the Connecticut authorities to ban people from keeping heavy primates.

8. Connecticut DEP Didn’t Think Travis the Chimpanzee Was a Risk

Even after the traffic incident and the imposition of the new primate rules, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) didn’t think Travis was a public safety risk. The new law required exotic pet owners with animals weighing more than 50 pounds (23 kg) to apply for permits freshly. However, the law was not enforced until 2009, when Travis mauled someone.

9. The Attack on Charla Nash Was His Last

Other than the traffic road rage incident, those who interacted with Travis had nothing but praise for him– until the Charla Nash incident happened. In the afternoon of February 16, 2009, Travis attacked Charla Nash (Sandra’s neighbor), badly disfiguring her face and body.

Surprisingly, Travis knew Nash; they had worked together at the towing company. However, it is speculated that the hairstyle Nash was wearing that day and the car she was driving might have confused Travis.

10. Travis Had Been Given Xanax at the Time of the Attack

When Travis attacked Charla Nash, he had been drugged with Xanax, a type of medicine used to treat anxiety and other problems associated with depression. In Travis’ case, though, the treatment was for Lyme disease, and it is thought to have played a part in his actions. Sandra Herold’s effort to hit the chimp with a shovel and stabbing him didn’t help much. A police officer shot him four times; he retreated and died next to his cage.

11. Charla Nash’s Injuries Were Horrendous

Following Travis’ attack, Charla Nash was left with injuries so bad that the medics who attended to her had to undergo counseling. Nash’s wounds were so deep that it took the intervention of four teams of surgeons to treat her. She lost nine fingers, and her face was severely disfigured; it was horrendous.

12. Travis the Chimpanzee Learned How to Socialize With People from Childhood

Socializing with humans wasn’t a problem for Travis because he grew up around humans. His owners’ neighbors used to come to play and wrestle with him; he always knew when to stop. One person who had interacted with Travis said the chimp listened better than his nephews.

13. His Head Was Taken for Further Studies

After Travis died, his head was taken to a laboratory and tests, including a check for rabies, were conducted. The University of Connecticut claimed his body for an autopsy. It was ascertained that Travis had no rabies, and the toxicology report confirmed Herold’s statement that she had given her Xanax-lased drink on the day of the attack. The rest of Travis’ remains were cremated.

14. The Last Person Travis Attacked was Compensated

Charla Nash’s family filed a lawsuit seeking compensation following the attack by Travis. After lengthy court proceedings, the plaintiff was awarded about $4 million in 2012. Even though Sandra Herold was long dead by then, Nash got her money from the defendant’s estate. Attempts by the Nash family to sue Connecticut’s DEP failed.

15. The Police Officer Who Killed Travis Later Suffered from Mental Issues

The police officer who fired the shots that eventually killed Travis the chimpanzee, Frank Chiafari, was later reported to be suffering from mental issues. Efforts to enrol him into therapy for his anxiety and depression weren’t fruitful. This resulted in a legislation proposal to have officers who suffer from mental illnesses after the justifiable killing of an animal compensated.

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Last Update: January 5, 2024