The Case Of The Missing Chimp
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris. Moe the chimp is missing. It's been more than two weeks since the 42-year-old chimpanzee escaped from an animal preserve in California's San Bernardino National Forest. As Gloria Hillard reports, the forest may not be the friendliest place for Moe, a chimp who've lived most of his life in the suburbs.
GLORIA HILLARD: Looking at the mountains where Moe has gone missing you'd think, in some ways, it's the perfect place for a chimp - it's wild and there's lots of trees. And then you remember, the only swinging Moe ever did was on the park monkey bars near the house he grew up in.
Mr. MIKE McCASLAND (Friend of Moe's Owners): He's always been pampered. He's given toys to play with. He's - now, he's in a whole different environment.
HILLARD: Mike McCasland is a friend of Moe's owners and has been assisting with the search efforts. He says the good news is there's plenty of water and wild berries up there.
Mr. McCASLAND: But he was used to eating a lot of human food, breakfast burritos, coffee, hot chocolate. He is missing that, and he's missing the human touch.
HILLARD: For most of his life, that human touch was provided by St. James and LaDonna Davis. St. James rescued the day-old chimp in 1967 after Tanzanian poachers killed its mother. The couple then raised the chimp like their own. He would be their only child. LaDonna Davis says, like any parents, they've been worried sick, but are maintaining hope.
Ms. LADONNA DAVIS (Moe's Owner): I just hope that he's not into a position that he can't get out of. You know, there's a lot of snakes and things that could be dangerous to him. And he knows that not everything is good. So, I don't know. If I had any inkling, it'd give me a little bit of peace.
HILLARD: That peace has been hard to come by over the last few years. And as Moe grew older, he got into trouble. In 1999, he bit not only a neighbor, but a local police officer. Local authorities stepped in and told the Davis' that Moe must be placed in a wild animal facility. They were devastated. But things were going to get worse.
In 2005, while they were visiting Moe at an approved sanctuary, St. James was attacked and nearly killed by two other chimpanzees. He lost his nose and eye, fingers and part of his torso. He recovered, but now uses a wheelchair. Today, he is showing me pictures of Moe at home, in the kitchen, watching TV, riding in the car.
Mr. ST. JAMES DAVIS (Moe's Owner): He liked to go for a car ride all of the time. So he might find somebody that will give him a ride in the car and they will see how nice he is and liked him, and actually want to keep him for a pet. We just would like to have him back where we can live as a family again.
HILLARD: No one knows how Moe escaped from his latest home at Jungles Exotics an animal training facility for the entertainment industry. He had been a boarder at the compound for a year. It's now the staging ground for the privately-funded search.
For NPR News, I'm Gloria Hillard.
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