Chimp Owner Meets With Animal Welfare Activists - 8 News NOW

Chimp Owner Meets With Animal Welfare Activists

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Animal rights activists protested against chimpanzees being kept in a southwest Las Vegas neighborhood without a permit. Animal rights activists protested against chimpanzees being kept in a southwest Las Vegas neighborhood without a permit.

LAS VEGAS -- Animal rights activists protested against chimpanzees being kept in a southwest Las Vegas neighborhood without a permit.

The protestors said the apes are escape artists and a tragedy is bound to happen.

The chimps' owner, James Michael Casey, met with the protestors in front of his house Friday. He said his chimps are small and kept securely in an enclosure.

He said the chimps have been the stars of birthday parties, bar mitzvahs and television commercials.

But the animal rights activists said the chimps will get bigger and the neighborhood is in danger.

"Any of the neighbors surrounding here that have questions or concerns, I'd like to meet with them personally, put their minds at ease," Casey said.

Activist Linda Faso said Casey is keeping chimps without the proper permits and that neighbors need to know about how dangerous the animals can be.

"He's had them there for a year-and-a-half and didn't apply," she said. "Now that he's applied, the neighbors have a right to say ‘Not in my neighborhood' or ‘It's fine with me.' Let the neighbors decide."

Neighbor Denise Snow said she knew the primates were there and is not concerned.

"We went over, knocked on the door and said ‘Do you own chimps?' They said ‘You want to come see? We're keeping them safe.' They invited us in."

Casey said he had no connection with the chimps who got loose in North Las Vegas in July; however, other incidents can be linked back to him.

In 2009, a chimp born at Casey's Missouri ranch mutilated a woman's face, nearly killing her.

"He was born at the facility, but by the time he was two months old he was in Sandra Herald's hands," Casey explained. "She was raising him."

In 2001, a chimp owned by Casey escaped and was shot dead.

Casey offered his explanation of the escape: "When the chimps got out of the facility in Missouri, I was a thousand miles away in Baltimore."

Casey said he has 23 years of experience and is a responsible exotic animal owner.

Faso said she is not convinced.

"They're going to get out," she said. "Look at what happened to CJ and Buddy (who was shot and killed when he escaped). Look at what happened to Charla Nash (who's face was mutilated by a chimp). Their hands are as powerful as five men."

Casey has been cited for not having a permit for the animals and operating a business with the chimps without a license.

"You got me on the business license," he said. "As soon as I can get this thing -- through the (Clark County) Commission -- then I will absolutely get the license.

County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said a hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21 and neighbors may weigh in on whether they want the animals there.

Until then, Animal Control deemed the property safe for the chimps to live there for the time being.

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