Posted tagged ‘Chimpanzee’

New York Post Cartoon Links Obama to Chimp

February 18, 2009

The New York Post is standing behind a cartoon that some have interpreted as comparing President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police.

Credit: New York Post

Credit: New York Post

From the Associated Press:

The cartoon in Wednesday’s Post by Sean Delonas shows two police officers standing over the body of a bullet-riddled chimp. One of the officers says the other, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton called the cartoon “troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.”

But Sharpton said the Post should clarify the point it was trying to make with the cartoon, which was playing off Monday’s rampage by a pet chimpanzee in Stamford, Conn., that left a woman severely mauled. Police ended up killing the chimp.

In a statement, Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan said: “The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.”

A story about the cartoon on the liberal-leaning Huffington Post Web site drew hundreds of reader responses, many calling the cartoon racist and insensitive.

Sam Stein, a columnist for the site, wrote that “at its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Most provocatively, it compares the president to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial.”


TV Chimpanzee Mauls Woman

February 17, 2009

A 55-year-old woman who was mauled by a 200-pound pet chimpanzee remains in  critical condition as police officials investigated whether illness might have changed the animal’s behavior.

From Reuters:

Police shot and killed a 200-pound (90-kg) chimpanzee that had once starred in television commercials after the ape nearly killed its owner’s friend and attacked a police cruiser.

The victim, Charla Nash, 55, was in very critical condition from the biting and mauling attack on Monday, said Captain Richard Conklin, a spokesman for police in Stamford, Connecticut, a New York City suburb. Her injuries were life threatening, he said on Tuesday.

Owner Sandra Herold, 70, tried to stop her rampaging pet, Travis, by stabbing him with a butcher knife and hitting him with a shovel but the chimpanzee fended off the attack and then stormed a police car that had responded to the scene, Conklin said.

The ape ripped off the side-view mirror of the police car, banged on the car and opened the driver’s side door, leading the officer to shoot the chimp several times with his pistol, Conklin said.

The animal fled the scene and police found a blood trail leading to its living quarters inside the house, where he died.

The chimp, just short of 15 years old, was taking medication for Lyme disease, which in humans can cause nerve damage and confusion in its later stages.

Travis had once starred in television commercials for Coca-Cola and the clothing retailer Old Navy, Conklin said.

From the New York Times:

Charla Nash, a friend of the chimpanzee’s owner, was viciously attacked in Stamford on Monday — with much of her face torn away — when she stepped out of her car at her friend’s house. The male chimpanzee, Travis, was eventually shot dead by officers, and Ms. Nash was taken to Stamford Hospital, where she remained on Tuesday.

In an interview, Capt. Richard Conklin of the Stamford Police said that Travis, 14, was believed to have Lyme disease, a tick-borne bacterial infection that in rare cases has been linked to psychosis, severe anxiety and delusional behavior. Travis had been in an agitated state most of the day Monday, and at one point his owner took the unusual step of giving him tea laced with Xanax in an attempt to calm him down, Capt. Conklin said.

“We’re trying to see if that factored into this,” he said of the Lyme disease.

Other than medication he might have been taking for the disease, Travis was not on any drugs and was not usually given Xanax, he added.

Despite their appearances, chimpanzees are known to possess astonishing power, with the average adult male having four to five times the upper-body strength of an adult human. As pets, they can be extremely difficult. They typically act aggressively toward their owners when they reach adulthood, and once reared by humans, they cannot be re-introduced into the wild because other chimpanzees will reject them, experts say.

The injuries Travis inflicted on Ms. Nash, whom he had known for years, were called horrendous.

Study Finds HIV Began Near 1900

October 2, 2008

An analysis of a biopsy sample recently discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has led researchers to conclude that the virus that causes AIDS has existed in human populations for more than a century.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The study, led by evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona in Tucson, puts the date of origin at around 1900, which is 30 years earlier than previous analyses.

HIV-1, the most common form of the virus, is known to have originated in chimpanzees because of close genetic similarities to a simian virus. It now infects an estimated 33 million people worldwide.

But figuring out when the virus jumped species and became established in humans has been difficult. The first cases in the U.S. were recognized in 1981, and the oldest evidence of the virus is a 1959 blood sample taken from a man who lived in what was then the Belgian Congo.

To find the point of origin, the scientists relied on a well-recognized genetic technique to determine the mutation rates of different sub-types of the virus. With a known rate of mutation, researchers could then, in essence, run the clock backward to find the point where the different sub-types were the same. That common ancestor would represent the first appearance of the virus in humans before it mutated.

“The HIV virus evolves incredibly quickly,” said geneticist Bette Korber of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who did an analysis in 2000. “Those mutations get passed on to the next individual. So we have that evolutionary pace to enable a look backward.”

Korber’s analysis compared the 1959 blood sample and modern samples. She traced their common ancestor to roughly 1931.

The new analysis, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, added lymph node tissue from a woman who died in 1960 in the Belgian Congo. The tissue specimen was one of more than 800 preserved in ice-cube-size blocks of paraffin at the University of Kinshasa.

The researchers compared that sample with modern strains to determine its mutation rate. Then they matched that rate with the 1959 sample, tracing their common ancestor to between 1884 and 1924.