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Chimp bites off Berlin zoo director's finger

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Chimp bites off Berlin zoo director's finger
Photo: DPA
08:29 CEST+02:00
Berlin doctors have refused to give a prognosis on whether Berlin zoo director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz’ index finger had been successfully reattached after a chimpanzee bit it off on Monday.

“There is a chance for the very destroyed finger, but it is not big,” head surgeon at Berlin's Marzahn district hospital Andreas Eisenschenk said on Tuesday, adding that though the bite wound is flush, there is a high risk of infection.

“With chimpanzees there are some germs in play that we can’t control,” he said.

As 55-year-old Blaszkiewitz was giving a tour through the zoo on Monday, he stopped at Pedro the chimpanzee’s cage to give him some food. At that point the powerful primate pulled his right arm into the pen and bit his finger off, a zoo spokesperson said.

Doctors at the hospital, which specialises in difficult transplants and limb reattachment, spent all of Monday afternoon operating on the finger, but doctors counld not say whether they had been successful.

The zoo spokesperson said that chimps can be dangerous and Blaszkiewitz may have acted carelessly and without following normal zoo procedure.

But the director handled the accident well, she said.

“He wasn’t any more excited than if someone had stepped on his foot,” she said.

Blaszkiewitz is responsible for promoting the now world famous polar bear Knut at the Berlin Zoo. He is currently embroiled in a bitter custody battle over the animal with the Neumünster Zoo, which says it has rights to the bear.

The Neumünster Zoo let the Berlin Zoo borrow Knut’s father Lars in 1999 on the condition that the first-born cub from his union with mother Tosca would belong to Neumünster, and the zoo is now claiming its rights to the lucrative polar bear.

The case failed before a Berlin court in May, when both sides agreed to try again and reach a solution outside of court. If they fail to do so within the next two months, the court will rule on September 1.

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