A group of refugee chimpanzees could have a new home, in Texas of all places.
A Houston zoo has reportedly offered safe haven for the chimps, now housed at Curtis Shepperson’s private zoo in Cold Harbor, the latest development in a years-long conflict between Shepperson and the county.
Shepperson has been on Hanover’s radar since an ape escape in 2010. Four of his six chimpanzees lacked the required “vicious animal” permits, and Shepperson was ordered to increase security and re-home the unlawful primates.
Over the winter he was given a six-month deadline extension to re-home the chimps, which was extended again in May to a June 23 deadline. The rub is the Houston zoo might not be able to take in Shepperson’s chimps until later in the year, putting their owner in legal jeopardy and the chimps’ lives on the line.
The topic landed on Wednesday’s board of supervisors’ agenda for closed session deliberation (after presstime, unfortunately), as it is technically a legal matter, to review the compliance agreement between the county and Shepperson.
We hope the county has the decency to continue to work with Shepperson. Hanover’s board of supervisors surely doesn’t want to be associated with euthanizing chimpanzees. Slapping the chimps’ owner with a misdemeanor also seems asinine. He’s trying to comply with the county’s wishes, but there’s a waiting list for chimp housing.
While we hope for a sunny outcome for the parties and primates involved, it still strikes us as odd that the chimps have to leave Hanover County. Had the permits Shepperson had requested for his “vicious” chimpanzees been granted in the first place, all of this monkey business might be behind us.