LAS VEGAS -- A chimpanzee is bound for a new home after escaping twice into a northwest neighborhood.
CJ first got out of her enclosure with her mate Buddy back in July. The neighborhood was shut down while police tried to round the chimps up. CJ was eventually recaptured peacefully, but Buddy never made it back to his cage. An officer shot and killed Buddy, as he started moving toward a crowd of people nearby. CJ eventually went back to her home in the neighborhood.
The second escape happened Saturday. Police were able to tranquilize and bring CJ to safety quickly, but she was not allowed back to her home. Instead, she is staying with a Las Vegas magician who uses animals in his act. Animal control officers are also checking on CJ every few hours to make sure she is OK.
The officials said CJ appears to be in good spirits for the moment. Everyone associated with the chimp feels it would be a bad thing to leave her in a small enclosure and away from any familiar faces.
CJ's trainers say before the most recent escape, they were already planning to move her to a chimpanzee sanctuary in Oregon, called Chimps Inc. She was scheduled to go later this month, but her latest walk in the neighborhood has moved the trip up. Animal Control agreed Sunday to temporarily waive required blood tests so that representatives from Chimps Inc. can take CJ to their sanctuary quickly.
The three co-owners provided documents to the county Sunday that proved they had signed away their rights to CJ two weeks ago. The proof was key to obtaining the county's approval for CJ's release to the sanctuary.
CJ could be on her way to the sanctuary as early as Monday evening or Tuesday. The chimp's trainers say her future is still a positive one.
"The way things turned out. It's bad, it's sad," says CJ's caretaker Lee Watkinson. "For CJ there could still be a happy ending, and we're grateful for that. She's going to a really great place if we can just get her there."
Watkinson also says he wishes he and the other trainers had known about the sanctuary sooner, and had sent Buddy and CJ there years ago.
The owners are giving up all rights to CJ in order to let her go to the sanctuary.
The move is an expensive proposition. The current owners said they are committed to helping support CJ for the rest of her life, but they are hoping the public will chip in because the expenses are considerable.
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