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Chimps on the loose in Las Vegas; one killed, other tranquilized

July 12, 2012|By John M. Glionna
  • Police faced two escaped chimps in northwest Las Vegas.
Police faced two escaped chimps in northwest Las Vegas. (Joe Cavaretta / Associated…)

LAS VEGAS -- Police here took a brief walk on the wild side Thursday, tracking down two escaped chimpanzees -- shooting and killing one animal and tranquilizing  the other, officials said.

Several panicked residents called dispatchers shortly after 10 a.m. to report that the chimps were acting aggressively in a northwest Las Vegas neighborhood. Officers moved in to find a male and a female in "an agitated state," said Officer Laura Meltzer, a spokeswoman for Las Vegas police.

"The male, which was estimated to weigh 170 pounds, was pounding on cars and damaging vehicles," she said.

That chimp was shot by an officer as it tried to cross a major street toward a group of bystanders who were watching the chase, many holding young children. "The officer felt the bystanders were in danger," Meltzer said.

A few moments later, animal control officers located the female chimp, downing her with a tranquilizer dart.

Police said they treated the animals with extreme caution in the wake of recently publicized cases, both in the U.S. and internationally, in which chimpanzees had violently attacked people.

Officers placed a local elementary school under lockdown and advised outsiders to avoid the neighborhood. Meltzer said it was unclear from where the animals escaped, but officers said it was likely from a local home. The investigation was continuing.

After the emergency, which ended just after noon, local television video showed one chimp lying face down in the the middle of a road, surrounded by animal control officers and a phalanx of police cars.

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john.glionna@latimes.com

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