Too Close For Comfort

ByABC News

Aug. 14, 2006 — -- A California man who was savagely mauled by chimpanzees in March 2005 and spent six months in the hospital recovering did not lose his love for his pet chimp.

St. James Davis, 62, and his wife, LaDonna, were celebrating the 39th birthday of their former pet chimp, Moe, at the Animal Haven Ranch when two young chimps broke out of their cages and viciously attacked the couple. Davis lost most of his fingers, parts of his foot, a testicle and parts of his face, and both chimps were shot dead during the attack.

"I am thankful that God and this hospital allowed St. James to come to me again," LaDonna Davis, who lost a thumb in the attack, said in a press conference Tuesday when her husband left the hospital. "We are not finished with our life together and our affection for each other."

LaDonna Davis told "Good Morning America" she and her husband still believe most chimps are not dangerous.

"Every animal, every being has good," LaDonna Davis told "Good Morning America" in March. "That's what you have to bring out of them."

The Davises adopted Moe from Tanzania shortly after he was born, and by all accounts, loved him like a son. They taught him to wear clothes, to takes showers and to use the toilet, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"Moe was like their child in many ways," Gloria Allred, the Davis' attorney, told "GMA" shortly after the attack. "They didn't have children and they were a family."

But after Moe bit a police officer in 1998 and a woman the following year, the chimpanzee was removed from the Davis' home by animal control officers and after a long custody battle ended up in the Animal Haven Ranch, about 30 miles east of Bakersfield, Calif.

The Davises visited him regularly, and were sharing birthday cake with him on March 3, 2005, when two young male chimps named Buddy and Olly broke out of their cages and attacked.

"When we made eye contact, the charge was on," LaDonna Davis told "GMA" after the attack. "There was no stopping anything."

La Donna Davis said the chimps pushed her forward so she fell into her husband with her arm around his neck. A chimp then bit off her left thumb, and St. James pushed her away to try to save her. The chimps then jumped on him, one at his head and one at his foot. The chimps, who each weighed more than 130 pounds, were shot and killed after the attack.

Moe played no role in the attack.

St. James Davis sustained multiple serious injuries and had at least 12 surgeries and physical therapy at the Loma Linda Medical Center. In June doctors took him out of an induced coma and removed his breathing tube. He finally returned home six months after the attack.

"He has a good attitude and to bring him home I think will help him emotionally," LaDonna Davis told "GMA" after her husband returned home. "This will bring him the ability ot heal inside and outside a lot faster."

LaDonna Davis said her husband suffered nightmares when he was first in the hospital and his short-term memory took longer to return than his long-term memory.

"It's a challenge and I have to say that once in a while I get a little angry but you have to let that go," she said. "If you don't let go you can't go forward."

Davis would not comment on whether or not there would be any legal actions against the ranch. There will be no attempts to bring Moe back to the Davis house as local laws will not allow it.

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