(NEW YORK) — The family of Andrew Oberle, the Texas graduate student who was mauled by two chimpanzees, is said to be “traumatized” after seeing their son and meeting with doctors at the South African hospital where Oberle is in intensive care five days after the attack.
Oberle’s parents, Mary Flint of St. Louis, Mo., and Andrew Oberle Sr., of Florida, arrived in South Africa 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 are, well, they’re quite traumatized,” Robyn Baard, a spokeswoman for the Mediclinic hospital in Nelspruit said at a news conference today. “They have requested privacy.”
Oberle, 26, has undergone two surgeries, including one six-hour procedure to clean out the wounds he sustained 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.
One testicle was also reportedly ripped off and he 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 today. “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,” Cussons told GMA Monday. “As far as our protocols go to ensure the safety of visitors coming here, it’s still the status quo.”
“I think Andy made a judgment here by entering the ‘no-go zone’ and getting too close to the fence,” Cussons said. “They [the chimps] directed the violence towards Andrew, whom they feel was infringing on their territory.”
Oberle’s friends in Texas have started a fundraising appeal to pay for his medical care.
A “Help Andrew Oberle” page on Facebook has more than 400 likes and a fundraising page on the WePay website has collected more than $16,000 in donations as of this morning.
The hospital has declined to say whether Oberle will need to undergo reconstructive surgery for his injuries. He is likely to remain in Nelspruit until his condition is further stabilized. If he moves, it will be to a hospital in Johannesburg, 160 miles away, and not the United States, sources told ABC News.
In an interview prior to leaving for South Africa, Oberle’s father said his son would likely return to his research work with chimpanzees if he is able.
“I’m sure if he’s able to do it, that he is probably going to be right back there when he can,” Andrew Oberle Sr. said. “That is what he wants to be doing.”
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