Interspecies Conflict/chimp attack


hi there bk good to catch you let me take you back to 2009 the chimp attack in stamford,you must be of heard of this tragic incident?charla nash got attacked by her best friends chimpanzee a 200lb male chimp called ripped her face off bit all her fingers my question is do you think any human could of stood up to the frenzied attack?the chimp was hit with a shovel stabbed and even shot numerous times but still took a while to die.thanks again bk

Hello Chris.

I've read about this terribly sad event.  The chimpanzee, Travis, was somewhat medicated at the time of the attack, and the medication in his system likely made him act differently than he might have otherwise.  It's hard to predict when and if the "wild" will emerge from a wild animal kept as a pet (and what stimuli might provoke such an action).

Q: Do you think any human could have stood up to the frenzied attack of Travis the chimp?
A: I believe it is quite possible that several humans do exist (or have existed) that might have been able to defend themselves from this attack.  Travis was much heavier (200lb) than a typical full-grown male chimpanzee (130lb), and wasn't in the best of shape.  However, Travis was still a chimp, and was brutally strong.  Estimates for chimpanzees' strength compared to human's varies greatly (as low as 2 times as strong and as high as 7 times as strong).  I would guess that 4 times as strong (lb for lb) is a reasonable estimation when compared to an average human male.  There are many humans that are physically fit, strong (perhaps combat oriented), large in size, and at an age close to their athletic peak that would have had a reasonable chance to defend themselves from Travis' attack without sustaining serious injury.  It's doubtful any human would have had a great chance to subdue or dispatch Travis bare-handed, but forcing the chimp to break off its attack with a stout resistance would have been quite possible for some humans.  An attacking chimpanzee will likely have more absolute strength than most human adversaries, and that human will need to deal with the ape grabbing, pulling, and biting.  Being attacked unexpectedly can put the one being attacked at a disadvantage.  While no human would likely come out unscathed, ones that are professional athletes (boxers, MMA fighters, football players, Olympic wrestlers, etc.) or have specialized combat training (Navy Seals, Green Berets, etc.) would have a decent chance to repel Travis' assault.  These people are accustomed to being in very physical and sometimes violent situations, and have the mental toughness to deal with these situations without losing focus.  Considering what it took to finally subdue Travis, a lot of resistance (punching, kicking, etc.) would have been needed to repel him and not many people could have pulled it off.  There's no way to make a blanket statement and say all "large, muscle-bound athletes" will succeed, and the same goes for saying all that don't fit those categories will fail.  While there are a few humans that would have been able to "stand up" to Travis' attack, most humans would not have been able to do so.

Best regards.  

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Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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