Chimp Attack Victim Andrew Oberle Moved to Johannesburg Hospital

PHOTO: Andrew Oberle, a 26-year-old Texas graduate student is recovering after the chimpanzees he was working to protect turned on him violently in South Africa.
Share
Copy

The Texas graduate student who was mauled by chimpanzees has left the South African medical center where he has spent the past week in intensive care and is en route to a Johannesburg hospital where his doctors say he will get better care.

An ambulance carrying Andrew Oberle departed Mediclinic Nelspruit this morning. Oberle's mother, Mary Flint, reportedly traveled with him in the ambulance while his father, Andrew Oberle Sr., rode behind in a medical car.

The family will make the 160-mile trip to Johannesburg today by plane and then be driven to the Millpark Hospital where Oberle, 26, will continue his recovery.

The decision to move Oberle was made after his mother and father, from Missouri and Florida respectively, traveled to South Africa Monday and spent the next days in meetings with doctors to discuss their son's treatment.

"His parents are, well, they're quite traumatized," Robyn Baard, a spokeswoman for the Mediclinic hospital in Nelspruit said at a news conference Tuesday. "They have requested privacy."

Oberle has been in the intensive care unit and under sedation at Nelspruit since last Thursday when he was attacked by two chimpanzees after stepping into a restricted area while leading a tour at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden near Johannesburg.

The University of Texas at San Antonio anthropology major was pulled under the restricted zone's fence by the chimps and then dragged nearly 100 feet into the public area where the two males continued to maul him.

Oberle has already undergone two surgeries, including one six-hour procedure to clean out the wounds he sustained in the attack.

Early reports were that Oberle's right upper arm was broken in the attack, while his lower right arm muscle and ligaments are torn and exposed to the bone. It was also reported that Oberle's left arm was mauled and he lost fingers on both hands.

He also reportedly suffered deep lacerations to both legs and lost several toes.

Oberle's family has asked the hospital not to release details on the extent of their son's injuries. The hospital spokeswoman said that Oberle is in a condition now that the full extent of his injuries cannot even be seen.

"I have absolutely no idea [what he looks like]," Baard told reporters Tuesday. "He is bandaged and in intensive care."

The Jane Goodall Institute says that the attack was a "territorial defense" by the chimps provoked by Oberle's entrance into the "no-go zone" and that the center is safe.

"We still maintain that we are a safe facility," Cussons told "GMA" Monday. "As far as our protocols go to ensure the safety of visitors coming here, it's still the status quo."

"I think Andy made a judgment here by entering the 'no-go zone' and getting too close to the fence," Cussons said. "They [the chimps] directed the violence towards Andrew, whom they feel was infringing on their territory."

Oberle's friends in Texas have started a fundraising appeal to pay for his medical care.

A "Help Andrew Oberle" page on Facebook has more than 800 likes and a fundraising page on the WePay website has collected more than $21,000 in donations as of today.

The hospital has declined to say whether Oberle will need to undergo reconstructive surgery for his injuries.

In an interview prior to leaving for South Africa, Oberle's father said his son would likely return to his research work with chimpanzees if he is able.

"I'm sure if he's able to do it, that he is probably going to be right back there when he can," Andrew Oberle Sr. said. "That is what he wants to be doing."

ABC News' Alyssa Newcomb contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...