Chimpanzees attacked an American student studying the primates’ behavior at the Jane Goodall Institute, dragging the man more than a mile into their enclosure.
The unnamed student had been spending several weeks at the South African reserve studying the animals. Witnesses said he was leading a group of tourists when two chimpanzees set upon him, unleashing a frenzied attack.
“According to eyewitnesses, two chimpanzees grabbed the man by his feet and pulled him under the perimeter fence and into the enclosure,” Jeffrey Wicks, a spokesman for private ambulance firm Netcare911, told The Telegraph of London.
He suffered several serious wounds and multiple bites, the report said. Paramedics needed armed escorts to reach the victim, who was stabilized at the scene and taken to a private hospital, MSNBC reported.
The chimpanzee attack left the reserve on lock down following the incident, The Telegraph reported.
The Chimp Eden was featured in a 2008 documentary produced by Animal Planet, Escape to Chimp Eden. It was established by Jane Goodall, the 78-year-old chimpanzee expert. The center, home to 33 chimpanzees, is meant to rehabilitate animals rescued from circuses, zoos and the bushmeat trade across Africa, the Telegraph reported.
Because that animals suffered had often suffered abuse in their previous settings, officials were extra cautious in their rescue efforts, David Oosthuizen, Jane Goodall Institute executive director, told The Telegraph. It was unclear if this caused delays in reaching the student, the report said.
“These chimpanzees have six times the strength of a human being so you have to respect them and we certainly do,” Oosthuizen said.