Pet Chimp Owner Screams ‘He Ripped Her Face Off’ In Harrowing 911 Call

In a harrowing 911 call, pet chimpanzee Travis can be heard screaming violently as 'he rips off' a woman's face. 
Credit: Public Domain

In a harrowing 911 call, a pet chimpanzee can be heard screaming violently as ‘he rips off’ a woman’s face. 

At just three days old, Travis the chimp was ‘adopted’ by Sandra and Jerry Herold – they had reportedly paid a breeder $50,000.

He would then be raised as Sandra’s ‘son.’

Travis would become a local celebrity – wearing human clothes, drinking wine, eating in restaurants, and using the toilet.

Travis the Chimp.
Travis the chimpanzee spent his days ‘snacking, watching TV, playing on the computer, and roaming the house.’ Credit: Public Domain

Following the death of Jerry, who passed away from stomach cancer in 2004, Sandra reunited with her friend Charla Nash.

At this point, Travis was 14 years old, five feet tall, 240 pounds, and morbidly obese, reports New York Magazine.

He reportedly spent his days ‘snacking, watching TV, playing on the computer, and roaming the house.’

This would all come to an end on February 16, 2009, when there would be a horrifying and brutal attack.

Travis the chimp and Sandra Herold.
Sandra Herold raised Travis the chimp as her ‘son.’ Credit: Family Handout

On the day of the tragedy, Sandra noticed Travis appeared agitated and disinterested in his usual activities.

As he was acting so oddly, Sandra put a Xanax into his tea, hoping this would help.

She would raise her concerns with Charla in a phone call – she explained that he was outside and running from car to car.

Charla volunteered to come over and help with the situation, bringing a toy to help him calm him down.

Charla Nash
Charla Nash’s eyelids, nose, jaw, lips, and most of her scalp were torn away in the attack. Credit: Alamy

Travis was reportedly confused when Charla arrived, as she had changed her hair.

He knuckle-ran towards her and stood up on his two legs, knocking her into the side of her car and then to the ground.

Immediately, Charla was covered in blood.

To try and stop the chimp from attacking her friend, Sandra screamed and grabbed a nearby shovel. She began beating Travis over the head, yet he continued attacking Charla.

In hysterics, Sandra grabbed a butcher’s knife from the house and plunged it into the chimp’s back. Still, he did not stop.

Sandra would stab Travis two more times, to little effect. At one point, he would turn and directly look at her, before continuing the attack.

In the gut-wrenching 911 call, the chimp’s owner would sob: “He ripped her apart! Hurry up! Hurry up! Please!

“He-he ripped her face off!”

Elsewhere in the call, Sandra cried: “I can’t. I can’t… He’s eating her! He’s eating her!”

Travis the chimp and Charla Nash.
Travis the chimp reportedly didn’t recognize Charla Nash when she arrived at the property. Credit: Public Domain

Eventually, authorities arrived and saw a body lying on the ground, seemingly lifeless.

Travis would be shot four times by a police officer – wounded, he retreated into the home, dying in his bedroom.

Somehow, Charla survived the horrific attack.

The chimp had bitten or torn away Charla’s eyelids, nose, jaw, lips, and most of her scalp. He’d broken nearly all of her facial bones. He’d fully removed one of her hands and the other one entirely. She was also rendered blind.

Charla Nash
Charla Nash has no memory of the harrowing attack. Credit: Channel Five

Nine months after the attack, Charla would be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. She told the talk show host she had no memory of the attack.

“I don’t want to remember, because I couldn’t imagine what it was like,” Charla said. “I want to get healthy. I don’t want to wake up with nightmares.”

Charla would sue Herold for $50 million but received only $4 million in a settlement in 2012, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Her attorney, Charles Willinger, described it as ‘grossly inadequate’ and stated it ‘does not begin to address Charla’s mounting medical bills and life care needs.’

Charla would eventually undergo a double hand and face transplant. While the face transplant was a success, the hands failed to thrive, as per Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Charla Nash

Charla Nash
Charla Nash underwent a face transplant following the brutal attack. Credit: Alamy

Just over a year after the attack, Sandra died aged 72 from a sudden ruptured aortic aneurysm.

Charla was left shocked after hearing the news from her brother.

She said: “Sandra was a troubled woman, and maybe she has some peace now.”

New York Magazine reports that Sandra would be buried with two urns beside her, one her daughter’s and the other belonging to Travis.

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Written by Kyra Hall

Kyra is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and celebrity news. She has a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a masters in Documentary Production from Nottingham Trent University. Kyra previously worked as an intern at ITV Tonight and a freelance filmmaker.