Chimp Loose In San Bernardino National Forest

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 30th, 2008


Moe the chimp, 31 1/2 years old, “cries” and seeks comfort from long time friend of the family after being shot twice with a tranquilizer on August 16, 1998. The chimp got out from his owners home and roamed the neighgorhood before being tranquilized.


Moe, a 42-year-old chimpanzee who grew up in suburbia until being forced to live in an animal sanctuary, was believed to be at large in a Southern California forest Monday after escaping his cage.

Animal handlers were combing the San Bernardino National Forest about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

“We think he may be hunkered down near a water source,” said Mike McCasland, a friend of Moe’s owners, St. James and LaDonna Davis. “We think he’s in a contained area a quarter-mile away but he’s probably disoriented and the brush is extremely heavy.”

The hunt started late Friday when Moe somehow let himself out of his cage at Jungle Exotics, a facility that trains animals for the entertainment industry. The chimp wandered into a house next door, surprising construction workers who then saw him head for a nearby mountain.

The distraught Davises, who raised Moe in suburban West Covina for more than three decades, contracted a helicopter to fly over the forest Saturday and Sunday, hoping the noise would flush Moe out of hiding, said McCasland, who’s serving as their spokesman. “That’s the one thing that does spook him,” he said.

Searchers were also making noise and calling Moe’s name as they scoured the forest. “His survival instincts would probably kick in, even though he’s been in captivity for a long time,” McCasland said. “He could literally survive up there for a long time.”

The biggest danger to the chimp would be rattlesnakes, he said.

San Bernardino County officials were not involved in the search because the chimp did not pose an immediate threat to public safety, but Moe’s escape will be investigated, said Brian Cronin, chief of the county’s Department of Animal Control and Care Services. “It’s our impression that this was just an error,” he said. “Jungle Exotics has always had exemplary ratings.”

Jungle Exotics had no comment on Moe’s escape. A woman who answered the phone referred calls to McCasland.

Moe’s disappearance is the latest in a long line of headlines involving the chimp over the years.

A member of the merchant marine, St. James Davis brought Moe home from Tanzania in 1967 after the baby primate lost his mother to poachers.

He and his wife were unable to have children and treated Moe as their surrogate son, toilet-training him, teaching him to eat with a knife and fork and letting him sleep in their bed and watch cowboys and Indians on TV.

But local authorities didn’t view Moe in the same light. For years, the Davises waged a legal battle to keep Moe in their home.

They finally lost in 1999 when Moe bit part of a woman’s finger off when she inserted her hand in his cage. The Davises said he mistook her red-painted fingernail for his favorite licorice. The incident also came after Moe mauled a police officer’s hand.

Over the Davises’ protests, Moe was taken to an animal sanctuary in Kern County where the couple visited him regularly. But in 2005, when they took a cake to celebrate Moe’s birthday with him, the couple was viciously attacked by two other chimpanzees who had escaped their cages.

The chimps nearly killed St. James Davis, chewing off his nose, testicles and foot and biting off chunks of his buttocks and legs, before the sanctuary owner shot the animals to death.

Moe, who has appeared in movies and TV shows, was transferred to Jungle Exotics where the Davises built him a state-of-the-art cage, McCasland said.

“He’s a very personable, sweet, nice chimp,” McCasland said. “He’s not going to be aggressive unless he’s provoked.”

Source: “Famous chimp Moe sought in Calif forest.” by Christina Hoag, Monday, June 30, 2008.


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Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

8 Responses to “Chimp Loose In San Bernardino National Forest”

  1. AlbertaSasquatch responds:

    Ouch! that has to hurt, having your nose, a foot and your testicles chewed off! I didn’t know chimps could be so aggressive. What I am wondering without trying to be disrespectful to Mr Davis is did the chimps eat his nose, foot and testicles? Poor Guy! Well let’s hope they find Moe before someone catches him on a game cam and we have another Jacob’s creature. Moe the mangy bear lol!

  2. Amdusias responds:

    Yeah nothing says, “Not a pet” with more flair than having your nose and testicles chewed off. But then again, many birthday parties end badly when you think about it.

    With the genetic proximety of these creatures to ourselves, perhaps one day we can reclasify them as homo.

  3. cryptidsrus responds:

    Hopefully Moe will be caught before he chews another person’s testicles off…

    Double, triple, quazillion ouch.

  4. Fishing J responds:

    So Chimps like nuts, I’ll remember that if ever faced with a loose one.

  5. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Well, I’m glad no human was hurt, and that Moe had better luck than the leopard that was recently put down by a police officer.

  6. Bob K. responds:

    “The chimps nearly killed St. James Davis, chewing off his nose, testicles and foot and biting off chunks of his buttocks and legs, before the sanctuary owner shot the animals to death.”
    I’m guessing that people now are more sophisticated in their knowledge of the natural world then I was as a child some 40+ years ago; I can remember watching trained chimps act on TV, ride bicycles, dressed up in little people clothes, you were given the impression that monkeys were generally sweet, harmless creatures.
    What a shock to find out just how dangerous they could be as I grew older. For everybodys sake, I hope that Moe is recaptured safely.

  7. jayman responds:

    Just to clarify things, Moe did not participate in the attack on Davis. However, that does not mean that he shouldn’t be considered dangerous. My prediction is he will be shot.
    All this shows the folly of human behavior concerning the natural world. Chimps belong in the African forest, and deserve a secure place there, not in suburbia.

  8. MattBille responds:

    It will be interesting, for those concerned with sasquatch, et. al., to see how this plays out. Here we have an ape loose with a lot of wilderness to wander through. Will they find him, and how long will it take?
    Granted, the case is not exactly analogous, since Moe is used to humans and not used to fending for himself, but you have to take your experimental data where you can find it.
    Anyone remember Bubbles the hippo, who got loose from San Diego? You had a freakin’ hippopotamus wandering through undeveloped areas of Southern California for three days, IIRC, before anyone spotted her. Moe could take a lot longer to find.

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