Hanover County investing in training after chimps escape

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – Hanover County is now investing thousands in extensive training to make sure all animal control officers can respond a large animal escapes happens again.

Right now more than two dozen types of exotic animals are living in Hanover County. Three properties have the permits required by Animal Control.

"Public safety is always number one," said Kevin Kilgore, Chief Animal Control Officer for Hanover County.

Kilgore says a few weeks ago two chimps got loose. No one was harmed, but he realized his seven officers need more training.

"All of our officers are trained for domesticated animals- in tranquilizing them," said Kilgore. "But none of us are trained specifically for large primates or great apes and that's what we're beginning-to do that training now."

The extensive three-day training costs thousands of dollars. It covers large animals and primates.  The county is paying for half the staff to get trained this month. The rest will be up-to-speed by the end of this year.

Dart gun training is also needed. Chemical capture isn't an exact science so extensive training is needed. Right now three animal control officers are learning how to use a dart gun. With that training comes knowledge of the darts and the medicine.

Beverly Hylton was clueless about her exotic neighbors. She wants to be sure the county has a handle on every type.

"I just think they should be properly trained," said Beverly Hylton. "I don't have an issue with it, but it's scary."

Kilgore says not only is training in place, but he's devised a list of zoos and animal rescues that can help at a moment's notice.

"We want to make sure that our departments, who will respond to these animal complaints, are prepared," said Kilgore.

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