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Nelspruit, Mpumalanga - A male chimpanzee who was shot in South Africa while mauling an American student has returned to the sanctuary where the attack happened, the primate centre said Monday.
The 16-year-old ape, named Nikki, was reunited with another male involved in the attack last month at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden after undergoing several operations for an abdomen wound at the Johannesburg Zoo.
“He is in a reintroduction process with the rest of the group,” Chimpanzee Eden manager Eugene Cussons told AFP.
Cussons shot Nikki while trying to break up the attack on Andrew Oberle, 26, at the northeastern sanctuary for abused and orphaned chimps.
The masters student in anthropology and primatology at the University of Texas at San Antonio lost an ear, several fingers and toes and a testicle. He is recovering in a Johannesburg hospital, local media reported.
The two chimps were found to have attacked Oberle as they felt he threatened their territory after he entered a restricted zone while taking tourists on a visit of the facility.
Nikki was sedated and trucked to Bombela city 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Johannesburg on Saturday, where he was united with the other male, Amadeus.
The two will spend some time in quarantine to get used to one another before rejoining the other chimps at the centre.
Chimp Eden will remain closed for several months during the rehabilitation.
“We need to ensure the group returns to normal dynamics before we allow tourists back in,” said Cussons.
Chimp Eden gained fame through an Animal Planet TV series called “Escape to Chimp Eden”.
The sanctuary currently keeps 33 chimps, which do not naturally occur in South Africa, in three large camps. - Sapa-AFP