When Animals Strike Back: Primates Who Pummel

Why did chimpanzees maul a grad student at a South African preserve?
3:00 | 08/17/12

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Transcript for When Animals Strike Back: Primates Who Pummel
-- the summer to remember and no not just because of the record heat waves or the Olympics but because of animal attacks. Every week now it seems as if we're hearing about animals going on the offensive striking back against people on vacation or even in their own homes. So what's causing the attacks we sent Dan Harris to take a closer look but told him not to get too close. Alligators in Florida yeah. Inviting his arm off of a teenage boy started pulling -- -- -- -- either Bob got a loses or is or isn't. Coyote -- -- an elderly women who. On the beach shark attack off the California coast beach -- had just watched helplessly as -- shark pulled wires under the water. And exiting -- injuring forty swimmers everything -- like somebody was -- he had a lame way as. There have even -- Normally harmless animal -- and Fuzzy but not friendly. And modern day and even -- -- biting and scratching a woman in Seattle a hundred times. I've traveled the world covering wildlife. Friend's swimming with sharks in Australia. It being chased by wild elephants in Africa. But that of course. Pails in comparison to what it must have been like for Andrew overly and a victim of arguably the most horrific animal attack. Of this long dangerous summer. But it turned out for the American graduate student who was brutally attacked by two chimps overly is that 26 year old who was savagely mauled in June by two chimpanzees. At an animal sanctuary in South Africa. In order to understand this attack to understand why our closest animal relatives -- be -- game. You need to know about -- to animals who carried it out and about this place where they live. It's called -- Eden and it's run by this man Eugene cousins who rescues -- from places like circus is nightclubs and roadside -- His dramatic rescue teams. Inspired an Animal Planet reality show called escape to candy. When one of the -- involved in the attack named Amadeus was a baby his parents were murdered and sold for food on the black market. The other Nikki was raised as a human boy his fur shaved to resemble one even wore a gold wristwatch. -- those both of those those of us. This combination of trauma and physical strand that is seven times that -- -- human makes these animals on -- ABC Osama -- inside the -- I do take my life into my own hands. In his first extensive interviews since the attack on Andrew relief cousins who was the first to arrive in helped save over -- life. Took us to the scene of the -- It was June 20 ninth and overly a volunteer was giving -- guided tour. According to cousins -- really made -- team the state stepping in between the two fences that surrounded chanting closure. Good champions evening. Take this as a breach of territory and they obviously went into defensive moment. The animals grabbed a release legs and -- him halfway under defense then pushed him back out. Where they viciously beat and gave him forcing thousands to shoot one of his beloved chance. Five C the run into his abdomen. Because my you know my priority was to make sure that I could give -- to end here. When paramedics got there about twenty minutes -- the attack started. -- really with barely alive. -- -- -- -- Police physical injuries to this extent was -- was overwhelming. According to early reports overly had suffered devastating and permanent injuries with several appendages ripped off of his body. In an exclusive statement ABC news -- -- family says he is now back home in the United States at saint Louis university hospital. Where he's awake talking and spending time with his immediate family. -- released family rejects the idea that he was at fault but until he is able to tell his story. Nobody will know why he got so close to the champs who nearly killed him. Because chances are so similar to us they -- 98% of our DNA. We have long tried to make them act like people. You want it couldn't -- even appear in TV ads working in offices. But -- chance mirror many of our best tendencies showing affection. Reconciling after fights even mourning their dead. They also share -- have. -- -- Days alimony a veteran animal trainer and predator expert on Animal Planet. Says you'll work with any species even wild chimpanzees. But never have -- champs. They have this capacity. Gang violence and aggression like an end and just saw on evil dark side to an animal rights to -- to believe existed in the Indian market. The worst part humanity things I hate most vulnerable. Israel recognize piece of that and chimps they will -- human being apart just because they can and they want. And her immature and would know. Two years ago while volunteering at a chimp sanctuary in Florida somebody let chilly -- into an enclosure she was cleaning so when that door open. And you knew these two agents were coming in -- a wave of terror rolls yes. One of the things in the back of my mind was I could die right now. Because it wouldn't take them very long to just care -- pieces. Andrea survive but she had to undergo repeated and painful surgeries. Multiple broken tendons in my right hand in a broken thumb fractured elbow puncture wounds I still have. Her scratches all of from my back that's how deep they where they had to staple up the back of the bite that she had taken -- the back of my skull. Do you think that -- similarity to us is what in some cases can make them so dangerous yes they are us. Without restrictions. And with seven times this yes and with the ability to -- you know 15100 pounds when they're mad. And they and -- a lot. Hers is just one of many infamous incidents involving champs. -- in the front yard -- meekly get somebody. -- -- -- One of them was shot dead by police and incredibly the other -- then escaped again and was captured again. Just last Saturday this looks like complete idiots like how the hell could get excellent acting out. -- -- 2009. A disaster involving a pet chimp named Travis. And animal who'd been raised as a -- appeared in TV ads. And whose owner had taught him how to bathe himself. And use that computer out of nowhere he ripped does face -- of his owner's friend Charlotte Nash. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- He later received a full face transplant. One of the most stunning aspects of the Andrew -- case is that despite the extent of his injuries. His friends and family say they are sure he will one day return to working with chance. Andrea -- -- says she too is open to it. Why. I think he can learn a lot. From great -- from chimpanzees. Because they are light dust without reservations they can really tell you a lot about the human race. You feel like you're staring into the eyes of your hand says yes. And you wonder what they're thinking about you. Creatures that tell us still much about ourselves both what we like to see. And sometimes but we don't.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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