The victim of a brutal 2009 attack by a chimpanzee is seeking to hold the state of Connecticut liable for her injuries for failing to enforce animal control regulations and protect the public. Charla Nash, who suffered severe and disfiguring injuries in the attack, alleges that the state had warnings that the chimpanzee could be dangerous. Police shot and killed the chimpanzee while the attack was occurring. Nash also sued the chimpanzee’s owner, who passed away in 2010.
Nash was visiting her friend Sandra Herold at Herold’s Stamford, Connecticut home on February 16, 2009. Travis, a thirteen year-old, 200-pound chimpanzee, was roaming the grounds at the time of Nash’s visit. Travis had starred in television commercials and was highly socialized, reportedly even dressing and bathing himself and using a computer to look at pictures. For reasons that remain uncertain, Travis attacked Nash. While Herold reportedly stabbed at Travis with a butcher knife and hit him with a shovel, Travis blinded Nash and tore off her hands, lips, eyelids, and nose. The attack also caused Nash traumatic brain injury. Police shot and killed the chimpanzee.
Nash required months of hospitalization to recover from wounds described as “life-changing, if not life-threatening.” An attempt to transplant new hands by doctors in Boston was not successful, but they successfully performed a face transplant in August 2011. Nash continues to recover from that procedure to this day.