LAS VEGAS – Two chimpanzees escaped a Las Vegas backyard and rampaged through a neighborhood Thursday, pounding on cars and jumping into at least one vehicle before police killed one primate and tranquilized the other, authorities said.
No people were hurt, but police said they had no choice but to kill after the agitated animals escaped their enclosure about 10 a.m. and started running through yards and opening car doors in a neighborhood of horse pens, palm trees and tile-roofed, landscaped homes.
Neighborhood resident David Plunkett said he saw the male chimpanzee jump on top of a police car – with its lights on and an officer inside – before the animal jumped to the ground and headed into a vacant lot.
“We tried to establish a perimeter until the experts arrived,” said Officer Marcus Martin, a Las Vegas police spokesman.
“But at least for the first animal, they couldn’t get there in time.”
The Las Vegas chimps were on the loose for about 30 minutes with police trying to corral them before a male primate believed to weigh more than 150 pounds was shot and killed.
The other chimp, a female, was shot with a tranquilizer dart but continued to roam the area for several more minutes before she was hit with a second dart. Martin said she was returned to her cage shortly after noon.
“They got out, and the police did what they had to do,” said neighbor Tony Paolone.
Paolone, who keeps 12 horses on his property, said he knew the chimps lived behind a home on his street for several years. He said he never saw them loose and he never felt threatened.
Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said the owner had proper permits to keep the animals on the property in unincorporated county territory outside Las Vegas city limits, as well as a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.