Abused chimp recovering

February 4, 2009 5:39:14 PM PST
We have an update on a chimpanzee rescued after living for years in terrible conditions. Before being rescued, he was given cigarettes and junk food to survive. Now the animal is making progress and will soon be moved to a new home.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

He used to be known as "Fred," but doctors renamed him, "Henry." A new name they said for a new life.

"It's not hard to fall in love with him and everyone at the shelter has," said Dr. Teri Schweiss of the SPCA.

When Henry was discovered, he weighed 61 pounds. Since the SPCA took custody of him, he's put on 18 pounds.

"Over the last month he's made tremendous progress," said Dr. Schweiss.

Despite the progress, doctors are still worried about the curvature of his spine. On Wednesday he was sedated and a CT scan was done to help them determine just how bad it is and the best way treat it.

An anonymous tip last year led to a garage just outside of Crosby where they found the chimpanzee living in a cage in the dark. The chimp had been fed a diet subsisting in part of diet soda, beer, junk food, even cigarettes.

Neighbors said the chimp never showed signs of mistreatment and that his owner loved him.

"Fred's riding in the truck in a baseball uniform, hat, a beer in his hand and a cigarette in his hand. Fred was one of the group," said a neighbor.

Henry's owner is still being investigated. The District Attorney has accepted a charge of misdemeanor animal cruelty, but the owner hasn't yet been arrested.

"He's like a little kid and I don't know how people can mistreat any animal especially one so human-like," said Dr. Charles Quick of Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists.

Wednesday's tests showed that one of Henry's ulcers healed, but they discovered a new one. If things go as planned, authorities hope to move Henry to a chimpanzee sanctuary in the next few weeks so he can live out the rest of his days.

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