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For Immediate Release: 10/20/10

Escaped Chimp in K.C. Adds to Growing List of Wild-Animal Incidents

Born Free USA Tracks Such Confrontations on Exotic Animal Incidents Database

Born Free USA, a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, says the 300-pound chimpanzee who escaped from his owner yesterday and ran rampant through a Kansas City neighborhood, pounding on a police car and frightening residents, is one of more than a thousand incidents involving a wild animal putting the public in danger. Just two months ago, a “pet” bear attacked and killed his owner in Ohio, and last month a lion attacked his trainer in Las Vegas.

According to Born Free USA’s chief executive officer, Will Travers, “It is pure luck this chimpanzee did not kill anyone. These attacks are frighteningly common and often fatal, and prove over and over that wild animals must live in the wild. As long as humans insist on keeping them as pets or for entertainment, our lives and our children’s lives are in danger. The laws in Missouri must change. Lawmakers need to ban wild animals as pets once and for all. No matter how well ‘trained’ or seemingly ‘tame’ they may be; they are not pets.”

Missouri’s current law simply requires registration of potentially dangerous animals — including lions, tigers, leopards, ocelots, jaguars, cheetahs, mountain lions, Canada lynx, bobcats, hyenas, wolves, coyotes or any deadly dangerous, or poisonous reptile — with local law enforcement agencies.

To serve as a resource for media, lawmakers, activists and the public, and to help shed light on the magnitude of the issue, Born Free USA has the only interactive online database of deadly and dangerous captive wild animal incidents (www.bornfreeusa.org/database).

Born Free USA’s goal is to provide a resource to support action that can prevent another incident like the Kansas City chimpanzee and the thousands of other horrendous incidents listed in the database, and to put an end to the captive wildlife trade and private ownership of wild animals.

The database lists more than 1,300 attacks and incidents that have occurred since 1990, searchable by state, species, type and keyword, and includes a U.S. map graphic marking each location — a shocking visual to illustrate how geographically widespread the problem is.

History has proven that an exotic animal attack on a human being can happen at any time, anywhere, as a result of someone keeping a wild animal as a pet, a captive animal escaping from a zoo, or an animal used for entertainment attacking their human caretaker.

Travers wants people to know that: “Many people who have been attacked profess their love for the animal and were not physically abusive towards the animal. It is not necessarily abuse that provokes an attack. Wild animals are ticking time bombs who should not be confined.”

Wild animals belong in the wild — not in the confinement of circuses, zoos, backyards or apartments. Kept in captivity, wild and exotic animals are not able to perform their natural behaviors and many animals literally go insane, suffering psychological and physical deprivation. Humans are at equal risk as a result of escapes, bites or other forms of attack.

Born Free USA’s captive wildlife database includes 908 exotic "pet" incidents; 79 performing captive exotic animal incidents; 230 accredited zoo incidents; and 164 non-accredited zoo incidents. The state with the most incidents overall is Florida. The top species is reptile. The human death toll to date is 69.

If you know of an exotic animal incident that is not in the database, contact Born Free USA at info@bornfreeusa.org.

Born Free USA (BFUSA) is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, BFUSA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets”, trapping and fur, and destructive international wildlife trade. BFUSA’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to more than 500 primates rescued from laboratories, roadside zoos, and private possession. BFUSA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation,” the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son Will, now CEO of both organizations. BFUSA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at: www.bornfreeusa.org; on twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, 203/270-8929; rodicompany@earthlink.net

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