A University of Texas graduate student was dragged into a chimp enclosure and repeatedly bitten by two chimpanzees on Friday. The 26 year old student, Andrew Oberle, was standing between the two barriers surrounding the enclosure at the South African sanctuary whilst giving a talk to a group of tourists. The chimps grabbed his feet and pulled him under the inner fence of their enclosure.
Oberle was dragged approximately half a mile through the enclosure and suffered serious injuries, including the loss of an ear and parts of his fingers. Much of the skin on one leg was also missing.
The sanctuary, named Chimpanzee Eden, is located in the Jane Goodall Institute. Oberle was studying the primates at the institute.
The executive director of the sanctuary, David Oosthuizen said the incident is a “terrible tragedy”. “Any interaction between humans and wild animals can be dangerous, as wild animals are often very strong and can act aggressively if approached or if they feel threatened. Additionally, the chimpanzees at Chimp Eden have suffered horrible injuries and abuse from humans and therefore have to be treated with caution.”, he said.
Oberle’s mum told reporters that her son had been fascinated with chimps from a young age and understood the risks involved with working close to the primates.
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