Chimps Escape in Vegas: 1 Killed, 1 Captured

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 12, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Las Vegas police killed one chimpanzee and captured another after the animals escaped from a home in a residential neighborhood. The chimps' caretakers could face legal consequences.

The animals likely escaped from a home where a domestic dispute was reported Thursday morning, police told the Las Vegas Sun. About the same time, someone called 911 to report a pair of chimpanzees on the loose nearby. No humans were hurt.

Witnesses say the chimps appeared fearful and in distress before police took them down. So why might the animals' owners be in trouble?

State and local laws require permits for wild animals like chimpanzees. But Las Vegas had not issued any permits for the chimpanzees, a city spokesman told the Sun. It's not clear if the owners had the proper state permits either.

Las Vegas actually offers two types of wild animal permits, according to the city's website: one for keeping animals and one for exhibiting them.

To keep a wild animal, Las Vegas requires:

  • Vaccinations.
  • Certification by a veterinarian that the animal doesn't pose a health hazard.
  • A microchip, implanted by a veterinarian, to keep track of the animal's whereabouts.
  • Liability insurance of at least $100,000.

To exhibit a wild animal, the liability insurance policy must be at least $1 million, according to Las Vegas law.

Failure to comply with Las Vegas' wild animal permit laws can result in the impounding of the unlawfully kept animal, and a citation to appear in court. If a wild animal bites anyone while on the loose, the animal's owner can also potentially be held liable.

While requiring permits for animals like chimpanzees in Las Vegas may seem only natural, local laws also cover some common domesticated pets as well: Wild and wooly Las Vegas requires a license for all dogs, cats, and ferrets over 4 months old.

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