I-Team: Chimps' Future Home Uncertain - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Chimps' Future Home Uncertain

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Mike Casey Mike Casey
Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary is home to many birds. Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary is home to many birds.

LAS VEGAS -- A controversial chimpanzee owner will not be relocating his exotic animals to northwest Las Vegas. After the I-Team re-opened its investigation into chimp owner Mike Casey, Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary reversed course about taking the chimps.

The four chimpanzees which were being kept in a southwest Las Vegas backyard are now in Pahrump. Owner Mike Casey wanted to get his chimps moved to Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary, but after the sanctuary's management watched I-Team stories on Casey, it changed its mind. Casey did not answer the I-Team's attempts to reach him for comment.

Clark County commissioners told Casey to leave a two-and-and-half acre southwest Las Vegas property after the I-Team uncovered he had no permit or business license.

With the deadline to move the chimps coming up next week, Casey told Commissioner Tom Collins his plans to keep his chimps in Las Vegas.

"He left me a message the other day that he is working with the Gilcrease folks to locate out in the area," Collins said.

Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary is near Durango and Grand Teton drives in the northwest part of town. They're still rebuilding from a 2010 fire. The sanctuary is known for its birds - seemingly every species with wings - and the occasional farm animal. Management initially thought bringing Casey's chimps in would become a tourist draw, but has since reversed course.

Taylor Andrews, with the sanctuary, said it didn't make sense to get the chimps because there were doubts about getting community support. In addition, codes would require a house-like structure to be built for the chimps.

Animal welfare activist Linda Faso led protests against Casey. She pointed out how chimp attacks can be deadly. In 2009, a chimp born, but not raised, at Casey's former Missouri ranch mutilated a woman's face. Casey's own nose was surgically rebuilt after another chimp attack.

"As long as those chimps are with Mr. Casey, they don't have a good life. They need to be in a sanctuary where chimps can be chimps and not entertainers," Faso said.

Casey's four chimpanzees are regulars at kid's parties and on television ads.

"I understand there's a location in Pahrump that is willing to take them and that will be a great location to take them right now," Las Vegas Councilman Steve Ross.

Casey has until March 1, under county law, to prove he's moved his chimps. The I-Team has not confirmed the location in Pahrump Casey is said to have moved his chimpanzees.

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