Stamford, Conn. Travis the chimpanzee’s relationship with his owner was closer than those of some married couples.
Sandra Herold gave him the finest food, and wine in long-stemmed glasses. They took baths together and cuddled in the bed they shared. Travis brushed the lonely widow’s hair each night and pined for her when she was away.
If she left the house alone, Travis would give her a kiss.
“If I left with someone Travis would get upset,” Herold said Wednesday.
Experts say the unusually human relationship would have been confusing for any animal. It may have also played a role in Travis’ savage attack Monday on Herold’s friend, 55-year-old Charla Nash of Stamford.
“This is a crazy relationship,” said Stephen Rene Tello, executive director of Primarily Primates, a sanctuary for chimps in Texas. “He was probably very bonded with her. I can kind of see it in his eyes this is his surrogate mother.”
And chimps like 14-year-old Travis, who was shot and killed by police, protect their mates and turf.
“If there is another person entering his space, he might consider it a threat to his territory, or even his mate,” Tello said.