Only infant chimpanzees are used in entertainment and advertising, because as they approach maturity, at about 6 to 8 years of age, they become strong and unmanageable. Chimpanzees evolved in the tropical forests of Africa, and that’s where they’re suited to live, roaming in groups of their own kind. A house in Connecticut was a completely alien environment for a chimp.
Yet as a “domesticated” chimpanzee, Travis could never have returned to the wild. He had never learned the array of skills necessary to survive there. The entertainment industry and pet owners rarely, if ever, provide for the long-term care of chimpanzees. Zoos don’t want them because they have not learned to interact with others of their kind. So most of these poor creatures spend the rest of their lives — as much as 50 years or more — in small cages in circuses, roadside attractions and, yes, even in the homes of individuals who lack the means to provide for them.