Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Monday, February 8, 1999 Published at 13:54 GMT


Attenborough demands chimps' release

Sir David Attenborough: Scenes on the video were an atrocity

TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough has demanded the release of four chimpanzees still in the care of circus trainer Mary Chipperfield.

Sir David was joined by chimp expert Jane Goodall as both backed the campaign to keep Trudy at her new home, Monkey World in Dorset.

The BBC's John Andrew: Hopes of a brighter future for Trudy
Their call follows reports that Chipperfield chimp Trudy is unlikely to be returned to the animal trainer recently convicted of cruelty.

Magistrates at Andover, Hampshire, recently convicted Chipperfield of 12 charges of cruelty to the chimp, including whipping her with a riding crop.

[ image: The video which sickened Sir David]
The video which sickened Sir David
Sir David described video footage of the incident as an atrocity and "one of the most agonising things" he had seen.

"I just cannot explain how anyone could try and justify treating an animal like that."

Sir David and Dr Goodall are members of a panel of experts formed to assess Trudy's progress since her arrival at Monkey World on 22 April last year.

The two-year-old has been adopted into a family of 11 chimps in the 40-acre sanctuary.

"It is a miracle that this is the same animal which arrived here and says a great deal about chimp nature that she is not still completely traumatised," said Sir David.

[ image: Mary Chipperfield is due back in court in April]
Mary Chipperfield is due back in court in April
A court is due to decide on Trudy's fate at the same time as sentencing Chipperfield and her husband in April.

But Sir David said: "The idea that the law should be so inhuman as to remove that little infant from the company of her new family and return her to unspeakable conditions is intolerable."

Members of the panel want an overhaul of the laws surrounding the private ownership of wild animals.

They have also called for the other four chimps being looked after by Chipperfield to be handed into care.

The trainer defended her treatment of Trudy in court and said she would be prepared to do the same again.

[ image: Trudy: Now living at Monkey World]
Trudy: Now living at Monkey World
Monkey World says it has received 200,000 letters of support plus donations, faxes and E-mails.

Saturday's Daily Mail quoted a spokesman for Mary Chipperfield Promotions as saying the public outcry had led them to drop their demand for Trudy's return.

But the sanctuary's owner Mr Jim Cronin said there had been no official confirmation: "She is still under threat when the court returns to the matter in April."

Dr Goodall, who looks after more than 100 orphaned chimpanzees in Africa, said Trudy was mistreated.

"She was only a baby of 18 months, and chimpanzees in the wild stay with their mother until they are at least five."

She added: "To take her away would be to re-orphan an orphan, it cannot be allowed to happen."

Dr Goodall also asked the court to ban Chipperfield from keeping animals.

'Lifeless rag doll'

Mr Cronin described Trudy's condition last April as "a lifeless rag doll" who had tips missing from her fingers and a big lump on the side of her head.

"It took two months before she could relate with other chimps and it is far too early to say what psychological damage has been done in the long run," he added.

He was very worried about the four other chimps: "They are Trudy's brother Teddy, who is five, a 27-year-old female who is probably her mother, and two others, one of which could be her father.

"We want them here, she is clearly not a woman who can be trusted to look after these wonderful, sensitive and highly social animals."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

06 Feb 99 | UK
Trudy 'can stay'

27 Jan 99 | UK
Circus trainer guilty of cruelty

29 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Call for circus animal ban

08 Feb 99 | UK
Mary Chipperfield and a ring of circus names

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online