In pop culture, the gorilla’s dangerous and the chimpanzee’s cute. The gorilla is King Kong; the chimp is Lancelot Link or Cheetah. In reality, the gorilla is dangerous only when provoked—when shot at, for example, or when held captive. A famous example of the latter situation happened in 1998, when a gorilla named Hercules mauled a worker at the Dallas Zoo. Considering the power of a big gorilla, even events like that, which left everyone alive, are mild. The chimpanzee, on the other hand, can be genuinely dangerous. In the wild, chimps occasionally prey on human children. They don’t handle captivity well except when they are young. As they age, they can become extremely aggressive toward people. There are various cases of captive chimps biting and tearing off the fingers and facial features of humans; worse damage than that happens occasionally—castration, lost limbs.
Hercules has died at the Dallas Zoo. He suffered a heart attack after surgery to relieve the paralyzing effects of arthritis in his back.
In Oregon, a chimpanzee escaped from its cage and bit an intern at a wildlife sanctuary. The woman’s injuries were minor.