County Gives Backyard Chimps the Boot

LAS VEGAS -- County officials have given a Las Vegas-area chimpanzee owner 30 days to remove his chimps from a southwest residential neighborhood.

During their Wednesday morning meeting, Clark County commissioners denied owner James "Mike" Casey a permit to house his exotic animals in the neighborhood. He has four chimps and a capuchin monkey.

"A chimpanzee would only have to go 24 feet, scaled an 8-foot fence and be in someone's backyard where children might be playing," said Don Cobun, Clark County Code Enforcement.

Commissioners approved the motion to deny Casey the permit 5-to-1. Commissioner Tom Collins voted against the motion and Commissioner Larry Brown was absent.

Animal rights activists in a county already jittery from two chimp escapes this summer protested the request to house the chimps, calling it "a public safety issue."

They point out the chimp responsible for mauling a Connecticut woman in 2009 was born at Casey's home.

Casey uses the chimps for commercial appearances. He told commissioners he was being vilified. He said he has a history of rescuing abandoned animals and providing them a happy, healthy home.

"I personally do not have children. These guys are my family and I love them very much," Casey said.

Las Vegas was recently shaken when two chimps escaped a different backyard and roamed the streets. Police killed one and tranquilized another.

Casey told commissioners he is looking at other places around Clark County to house his chimps.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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