(JOHANNESBURG) — A Texas graduate student who was mauled by chimpanzees will be moved to a Johannesburg hospital on Thursday after doctors told his parents he would get better care there.
Andrew Oberle will be transported from the Nelspruit Medi-clinic to Millpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was taken by ambulance to Nelspruit Airport Thursday morning, and will be flown to Johannesburg.
Oberle’s parents, Mary Flint of St. Louis, Mo., and Andrew Oberle Sr., of Florida, arrived in South Africa on Monday and spent the day meeting with doctors to discuss their son’s treatment, officials said. Oberle is in stable condition but remains sedated and in the intensive care unit. His parents were said to be ‘traumatized’ upon seeing their son.
“His parents are, well, they’re quite traumatized,” Robyn Baard, a spokeswoman for the Mediclinic hospital in Nelspruit said at a news conference on Wednesday. “They have requested privacy.”
Oberle, 26, has undergone two surgeries, including one six-hour procedure to clean out the wounds he sustained last Thursday when he was attacked by two chimpanzees after stepping into a restricted area while leading a tour at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden near Johannesburg.
The University of Texas at San Antonio anthropology major was pulled under the restricted zone’s fence by the chimps and then dragged nearly 100 feet into the public area where the two males continued to maul him.
Early reports were that Oberle’s right upper arm was broken in the attack, while his lower right arm muscle and ligaments are torn and exposed to the bone. It was also reported that Oberle’s left arm was mauled and he lost fingers on both hands.
He also reportedly suffered deep lacerations to both legs and lost several toes.
Oberle’s family has asked the hospital to not release details on the extent of their son’s injuries. The hospital spokeswoman said that Oberle is in a condition now that the full extent of his injuries cannot even be seen.
“I have absolutely no idea [what he looks like],” Baard told reporters on Wednesday. “He is bandaged and in intensive care.”
The Jane Goodall Institute says that the attack was a “territorial defense” by the chimps provoked by Oberle’s entrance into the “no-go zone” and that the center is safe.
“We still maintain that we are a safe facility,” Eugene Cussons, the director of the institute, told ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday. “As far as our protocols go to ensure the safety of visitors coming here, it’s still the status quo.”
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