I-Team: 8 News NOW First Reported on Chimps in 2002 - 8 News NOW

I-Team: 8 News NOW First Reported on Chimps in 2002

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Buddy and C.J. with Nikki Riddel in 2002. Buddy and C.J. with Nikki Riddel in 2002.

LAS VEGAS -- The two chimps that were on the loose in a Las Vegas neighborhood are no strangers to 8 News NOW.  The I-Team first reported on them 10 years ago when they were still both in diapers.

The I-Team had received a tip from animal rights activists that the two then-baby chimps named Buddy and C.J. were being put on display at an indoor swap meet.

Trainer Nikki Riddell invited the I-Team to her home to meet the chimps in 2002. It happened to be C.J.'s third birthday and Buddy had just turned two.

Some Animal Activists Going Ape Over Swap Meet Chimps (May 2002)

Riddell had the chimps since they were weeks old. She said, she had acquired both because their mothers had rejected them and surrogate mothers didn't work out. The chimps wore diapers, were pampered, and treated very well by Riddell. The I-Team did not find any animal abuse.

Riddell did admit to that C.J. and Buddy were a handful and required 24-7 attention. She knew they would grow into very powerful animals and that they would be with her for the rest of their lives.

"They can't be pets. They will always be wild animals. You can't tame them," Riddell told the I-Team during that visit.

The I-Team did visit a few more times with Riddell and the chimps and  It seemed clear that their trainer really cared for them but she never seemed to face -- or admit -- the reality that it might simply be a bad idea to live with wild exotic animals.

As Thursday's tragedy shows, wild animal are always a potential danger to humans, no matter how they are raised.


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