A sheriff's deputy shot and killed a pet chimpanzee at the owner's request after the animal had bitten the keeper's adult daughter in northeast Oregon, authorities said Wednesday.
The male adult chimp had lived with the family for about 17 years in Pendleton, about 200 miles east of Portland, when it got out of its outdoor cage and attacked the owner's 50-year-old daughter on Sunday morning, officials said.
Tamara Brogoitti, 68, and her injured daughter had taken cover in the basement while their pet chimpanzee named Buck, who weighed between 200 and 250 pounds, roamed grounds outside before it was fatally shot, Umatilla County Sheriff’s Lt. Sterrin Ward told NBC News.
"It's extremely sad," Ward said, "and tragic is the best word I could come up with."
Brogoitti told a 911 dispatcher she would have shot the animal herself, if she had been able to reach her own firearms.
"I've locked myself in the basement with her," Brogoitti told a 911 dispatcher. "I can't get out to get my own gun. You're going to have to do a head shot."
When the dispatcher said help was on the way, the caller said multiple deputies would be needed to kill the animal.
"Send more than one because ... if the ape gets the drop on him, he's gone, too," she said. "I've never seen anything like this. He's got to be put down. We're both locked in the basement and they have to do a head shot on the ape."
The deputies followed through with instructions to gun down the animal and Buck was fatally shot with one round to the head.
The adult daughter was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital in Pendleton and treated for several bites to her torso, arms, and legs, officials said.
An attorney for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Brogoitti had "long deprived the highly social animal of the companionship of other chimpanzees."
"PETA warned state authorities that Tamara Brogoitti had created a ticking time bomb by engaging in direct contact with a dangerous ape, and now, he is dead and a woman has been mauled because of Brogoitti’s refusal to follow experts’ advice and transfer Buck to an accredited sanctuary," Brittany Peet said in a statement.
Brogoitti told NBC News on Wednesday that she didn't want to discuss the tragedy.
"Can you understand that this is a very painful time and we need to be left alone?" she asked before hanging up.
Buck was well known in the community and would accompany Brogoitti on errands around town when he was younger and much smaller, according to Ward.
"I had local reporter that called me and he says, 'Is it true that Buck got shot?' You knew him by name," Ward said.
Chimpanzees and other exotic animals were made illegal as pets in Oregon in 2010, but many such creatures were grandfathered in and allowed to stay with their humans.
Brogoitti had a pre-2010 permit for Buck, so the primate was legally residing at that home, a state agriculture spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Legal or not, Peet cited the disturbing 2009 chimpanzee attack in Connecticut as a clear warning sign that these primates cannot be kept as ordinary household pets.
"Since long before the chimpanzee Travis ripped a woman’s face off in 2009, it has been clear that attacks are inevitable so long as people continue to treat chimpanzees like Chihuahuas," Peet added.