Primitive Attack May Have Been The Result Of Primate Intelligence

Investigators with the Kern County Sheriff's Department and State Fish and Game had nothing but praise for the way Virginia Brauer runs the Animal Haven sanctuary.

But on the morning of March third, officials said a moment of inattention allowed four chimpanzees to escape.

"When she left the bunkhouse, Virginia did not secure the exterior door and interior door," said Sheriff's Commander Hal Chealander.

The bunkhouse is connected to the outside area by a trap door, which is secured by a metal bolt.

Investigators said Brauer thought the bolt was in place at the time of the escape.

However, one week after the incident, officials said one of the female chimps was observed removing the bolt.

"The chimp hit the pin a couple of times then slid the door open," said Chealander.

"We believed that violations occurred and that's why we submitted the case."

Investigators recommended three misdemeanor charges be filed against Animal Haven, but Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels announced Tuesday, that his office would not prosecute.

"We do not believe justice would be served," said Jagels, "this is terrible tragedy, not criminal offense."

The decision angered Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents St. James and LaDonna Davis.

"It is obvious that there must have been negligence in order for the chimps to have escaped," said Allred.

Sheriff officials released graphic pictures from the scene on Wednesday, including one photo of the male chimps that were shot dead during the attack on St. James Davis.

He remains in a medically-induced coma following numerous surgeries.

His medical bills could surpass one million dollars.

Allred said they will not file a civil suit because the sanctuary has no liability insurance.

She said she'll pursue legislation that forces these types of facilities to carry insurance.

The State department of Fish and Game has not decided whether to renew Animal Haven's operating permit.

Spokesperson Patrick Foy told 23News that Animal Haven has been a model facility, right up until the chimp attack.