McLEAN, Ill. -- Kiko, a 4-year-old chimpanzee who has starred a made-for-television Tarzan movie, proved he has a firm grip Monday.
The chimp and his two trainers were returning to the Chicago area early Monday when the van they were in skidded on ice on Interstate 55 in central Illinois rolled over into a ditch.
Snowy weather that created icy roads led to about half a dozen vehicles in ditches, including the van Roger Figg, 24, of Streamwood, a suburb northwest of Chicago, was driving, Illinois State Police Trooper Harry Simpson said.
'They've been slipping into the ditch all morning,' Simpson said. 'Everybody's trying to zip right down the road like it isn't snowing.'
Kiko was shaken up, but otherwise unharmed. His trainers, however, were less fortunate and Kiko insisted on staying with them as they were taken to an area hospital.
Kiko was flung from the van when it hit the ditch and rolled over.
'He was asleep in the back of the van. He was actually thrown out' into the snow about 5 feet from the van, Figg said.
'I crawled out looking for Kiko,' Figg said. 'He was all wrapped up in his blanket, very happy to see me.'
After finding Kiko apparently unhurt, Figg then flagged down a passing truck, whose driver used his radio to contact authorities.
Rescue workers calmed the shaken chimp with a can of soda pop but Kiko refused to leave Figg's side during, and was taken to the hospital with Figg.
'He didn't care for the emergency people trying to work on me,' Figg said. 'I had to stay with him the whole time. We're buddies. We've been together ever since the beginning.'
Figg said Kiko has appeared in a made-for-television Tarzan movie and more recently has done educational shows to bring awareness to the extermination of animals.