Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Deputy: Primate sanctuary was uncooperative, deceptive after chimp attack

PALM HARBOR — A deputy called to a primate sanctuary in response to a chimp attack on Friday said workers were "uncooperative," "evasive" and "deceptive" about the incident that landed a volunteer in the hospital.

"That's not true," said the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary's outreach coordinator, Debbie Cobb.

But according to Pinellas sheriff's Deputy Gregory Mason's report, he spent more than hour trying to track down the volunteer, Andrea Maturen, while workers denied him entry to the sanctuary. He wrote that workers repeatedly told him that the incident was less severe than it was and gave him conflicting accounts about Maturen's whereabouts.

"Looking at the time line, it appears that Andrea (Maturen) was at the sanctuary with severe and potentially life-threatening injuries, while I was outside trying to find out what happened and check on her," the deputy wrote. "She went over an hour before receiving medical treatment at (the doctor's) office. I believe I was intentionally misled about her condition, about what happened and her location."

Cobb said workers freely provided information and were not deliberately misleading.

"We didn't know where she was at," she said Monday.

An 11-year-old chimpanzee named Shawn chased, attacked and struggled with Maturen after the 22-year-old volunteer entered a cage on Friday, according to authorities.

The deputy arrived at 11:37 a.m., shortly after authorities received a call from a patron who had been ushered out of the sanctuary after hearing someone screaming.

Here is what happened, according to the deputy's report:

More than once, the deputy found himself ringing a bell by the gate trying to get inside to see Maturen. One worker said the sanctuary was closed and no one was allowed in because of an incident, but she added that no one was hurt. The deputy asked to speak to Maturen. The worker supposedly went to get her.

Then, several minutes later, another worker greeted the deputy at the gate. She told him that Maturen was merely grabbed by a chimp while cleaning a cage. The deputy again demanded to speak with Maturen. Once again, a worker said she was going to get Maturen.

After the deputy rang the bell several times, Cobb showed up at the entrance. She told him she would check to see if Maturen was there. She returned to say that Maturen had left.

About 1 p.m., Cobb reportedly told the deputy that her husband had found Maturen at a nearby medical clinic. The deputy was later told that Cobb's husband accompanied Maturen there about 12:30.

Maturen was transported to Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital, where she was interviewed by the deputy.

Maturen said she was charged by two chimps, Shawn and her sister Lucy, but Lucy apparently backed off. Shawn attacked, and Maturen thought her right elbow was fractured because she heard it break.

She also had a deep laceration on the back of her head and bites on her thigh, back and abdomen, the report said.

Maturen was released from the hospital Monday afternoon, spokesman Jerry Touchton said.

The Sheriff's Office closed its case, and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is conducting an investigation.

Maturen could not be reached. Cobb said Maturen is doing well, but is worried about Shawn's welfare. "She said to my husband, 'Don't let them do anything to Shawn,' " said Cobb, whose grandparents founded the sanctuary.

Shawn is doing fine and is back to playing with her caregivers, sanctuary officials said.

"She is a very sweet chimp and was apparently very frightened when Andrea reacted in a loud way," an e-mail from the sanctuary said. "We do not speak or shout around the chimpanzees or other animals."

Deputy: Primate sanctuary was uncooperative, deceptive after chimp attack 02/15/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 12:13am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Every Little Thing podcast
  2. Goodbye Tampa Bay Express, hello Tampa Bay Next; but toll lanes aren't going anywhere

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Express is dead.

    But it's replacement — Tampa Bay Next — will likely include many of the same projects, including express toll lanes on the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. DOT officials say there are still re-evaluating the most controversial aspect of the old TBX plan: spend $6 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area highways - Interstates 4,75 and 275 - that are currently free of tolls. But TBN will keep the plan to add express toll lanes to the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  3. Trigaux: Tampa Bay lands on Forbes 2017 ranking of best places for young professionals

    Working Life

    Consider this one more notch in the belt of Tampa Bay starting to win serious attention from millennials as place to live and build a career.

    Mike Griffin is a senior managing director in Tampa for Savills Studley Occupier Services, which provides integrated real estate services. He is also chairman for 2017 of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first of the next generation of leadership emerging in this metro market. [Courtesy of Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce]
  4. Column: Trump beat Bush, Rubio but has become an 'establishment sellout'

    Blogs

    NYT’s Ross Douthat's Sunday column: Donald Trump, Establishment Sellout

  5. Haitians get a reprieve from Trump administration

    Blogs

    Haitians living in Florida, and the rest of the country, will be allowed to stay an additional six months, federal officials have decided.