Chimp, owner had unusual bond

STAMFORD, Conn. - Travis the chimpanzee's relationship with his owner was closer than those of some married couples.

Sandra Herold gave him the finest food and wine in long-stemmed glasses. They took baths together and cuddled in the bed they shared. Travis brushed the lonely widow's hair each night. If she left the house alone, Travis would give her a kiss.

Experts say the unusually human relationship would have been confusing for any animal. It may have also played a role in Travis' savage attack Monday on Herold's friend, 55-year-old Charla Nash of Stamford.

'This is a crazy relationship,' said Stephen Rene Tello, executive director of Primarily Primates, a sanctuary for chimps in Texas. 'He was probably very bonded with her. I can kind of see it in his eyes this is his surrogate mother.'

And chimps like 14-year-old Travis, who was shot and killed by police, protect their mates and turf.

Police said Travis attacked Nash when she arrived at the house to help lure the chimp back into Herold's house. Nash suffered massive injuries to her face and hands, requiring more than seven hours of surgery.

Boy, 9, pleads guilty to killings

ST. JOHNS, Ariz. - A 9-year-old boy accused of methodically shooting his father and his father's roommate to death last fall pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of negligent homicide, settling the case that shocked and mystified the nation.

Under a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty in the death of the roommate and charges of premeditated murder for both deaths were dropped. Police said the boy used a .22-caliber rifle to shoot the men.

The boy's plea spares the rural community an emotional trial and prevents the boy from serving time in the state juvenile corrections system or being tried as an adult.

The boy has not yet been sentenced. He could be sent to the county juvenile system. Apache County Attorney Michael Whiting wants the boy to undergo extensive mental evaluations and treatment.

Shark attacks dropped in 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Shark attacks dipped to the lowest level in five years in 2008, a change that might have happened because the ailing economy kept cash-strapped vacationers away from beaches, a leading shark expert said Thursday.

There were 59 shark attacks around the world last year, compared to 71 in 2007, said George Burgess, an ichthyologist and director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History.

Jury convicts man of slayings

MIAMI - A one-time security guard was convicted Thursday of murder, kidnapping and other charges for his role in the 2007 hijacking of the 'Joe Cool' charter boat at sea and killing of four people whose bodies were never found.

Guillermo Zarabozo, 21, sat stonefaced as he was found guilty of 16 charges that will likely keep him in prison for the rest of his life.

Zarabozo was convicted of plotting the 'Joe Cool' takeover with Kirby Archer, 37, an Arkansas fugitive who previously pleaded guilty. Authorities said they paid $4,000 for what was supposed to be a short trip to Bimini, Bahamas, then fatally shot the boat's captain, his wife and two crew members and changing course for Cuba.

Oil prices rise on inventory report

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Oil prices jumped Thursday as new government data showed inventories fell unexpectedly and that consumption of gasoline and other petroleum products - which have been plummeting because of the recession - may be starting to edge higher.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery rose 7 percent, or $2.77, to settle at $40.18 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

150 dogs, tiger rescued in Mo.

SENECA, Mo. - The Humane Society of Missouri said it rescued more than 150 dogs and a Bengal tiger from a substandard dog breeder near Seneca.

The group said the rescue Thursday with the Newton County Sheriff's department was its second major puppy mill raid in less than a week.

It said the dogs' cages were covered with waste and they had no food or water.

About 30 puppies and four pregnant canines were among the dogs taken to St. Louis for treatment pending a custody hearing March 9. The adult tiger was taken to a Springfield zoo.

The same breeder in Newton County was raided two years ago.