ST. LOUIS (AP) — a St. Louis graduate student who was mauled by chimpanzees while giving a tour of their South Africa sanctuary this summer will be returning home for treatment, an official at Saint Louis University Hospital said Thursday.
Andrew Oberle, who has been in a medically-induced coma since the June 28 attack, is scheduled to be transferred from a South African hospital next week. Dr. Bruce Kraemer, chief of plastic surgery at Saint Louis University Hospital, will oversee his care, hospital spokeswoman Laura Keller said.
Oberle, 26, lost both ears, his left arm and toes in the June 28 attack, according to relatives. Keller said he’ll likely undergo extensive facial reconstructive surgery, although his exact treatment plan hadn’t been set.
"We’ll do a full assessment of his condition when he arrives," Keller said.
The attack happened at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Chimpanzee Eden SA. Oberle, a University of Texas at San Antonio student, was working at the chimp sanctuary as part of his graduate program in anthropology. he was leading a tour when two chimps attacked him, pulling him under a fence and dragging him about a half-mile before it was over.
Oberle’s uncle, Daniel Coogan, wrote on the Facebook page, "help Andrew Oberle," on Thursday that Oberle "continues to get stronger and his condition improves daily!" Coogan did not respond to an interview request.
Officials at the refuge said this week that the chimps that mauled Oberle were being reintroduced at the center. The animals — Amadeus and Nikki — were in separate cages. Eugene Cussons of the Goodall Institute said scientists would watch their behavior before letting them back together and with other chimps.
Amadeus, the alpha male, had been held in solitary confinement at the center since the attack. Nikki was shot in the abdomen and leg after the attack, and was transferred from the Johannesburg Zoo to the refuge last weekend.
Cussons has said it was the first attack by chimps since the refuge opened six years ago.