Escaped 300-Pound Chimp Attacks Police Cruiser
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Kansas City Star via YellowBrix
October 20, 2010
Tiffanie Jennings had called her cousin, Tonya Jennings, for help. When Tonya arrived, Sueko opened the passenger door to her sport utility vehicle. Jennings ran to an animal control truck that had just arrived.
Soon thereafter, Archigo arrived, witnesses said.
“How’d all this happen?” he reportedly asked.
The Haley sisters said he seemed angry that neighbors had called police.
“But we were scared to death,” Amber Haley said.
Kansas City police dispatchers weren’t sure if the calls about a loose chimp were a joke, but Sgt. John Blomquist immediately knew it was true.
He had responded to a call of a “suspicious party in a van” about seven years ago in the same area. As it turned out, Sueko was in the van alone, rocking it back and forth.
“I’ll be responding,” Blomquist announced over the radio. “And be advised, I do have a banana.”
When Blomquist got to the scene, he told the animal control officer to get in his patrol car so they could get closer for a tranquilizer shot.
But once Sueko saw the tranquilizer gun, she charged the police car. She pushed a trash can against its front bumper, climbed on the car’s hood, pounded the roof and kicked the windshield, breaking it.
“I didn’t expect it to go down like that,” Blomquist said.
When Sueko ran into a back yard, officers followed with their rifles, prepared to shoot if the ape approached anyone. The animal control officer hit Sueko with one tranquilizer dart but missed a second shot after the chimp climbed a tree.
Sueko later walked into her owner’s van.
Archigo told police he was an over-the-road trucker and that Sueko rode with him and his girlfriend.
City officials have repeatedly warned Archigo not to bring Sueko into the city. Archigo was cited in 2000 after complaints that Sueko injured a teenage girl by lifting her by the ankles and tossing her to the ground. The chimp also allegedly bit another girl.
At the time, animal rights advocates said such behavior is to be expected when chimps are allowed to mix with humans. The animals are not suited to be pets because they want to be dominant.
Kansas City animal control officials briefly confiscated the chimp in 1995, when Archigo was living in Kansas City, after investigating reports that Sueko had bitten humans.
City ordinances do not allow residents to keep primates within city limits. But when Archigo threatened to sue the city, officials returned the animal to him on the condition that he keep her outside the city.
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders remembers prosecuting the case against Archigo for tossing the young girl to the ground. Archigo was supposed to give up the ape.
“These type of situations have to be handled very seriously,” Sanders said Tuesday. “Chimps are considered as dangerous as lions or tigers if they escape from a zoo, but because of our image of baby chimps, we don’t always think of it that way. … They’re incredibly strong.”