Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wild Tokyo city chase for monkey

A monkey is on the loose in Tokyo, hanging out at train stations, frightening children and leading to a wild chase by TV crews hoping for a glimpse of the unusual visitor to the metropolis.

The monkey, believed to be a Japanese macaque, was first spotted on April 30 in the unlikely spot of Hiroo, an upscale residential area in trendy Shibuya ward.

The animal has since been heading north sampling diverse neighbourhoods, growling at children in the Yotsuya business district, showing up in the older district of Sugamo and strolling around near the Akabane train station.

It has also fought with crows – a much more common animal in Tokyo – and turned up in a cemetery playing with flowers on graves and eating nuts from the trees, Hideo Tajima, an official at the animal welfare centre of the metropolitan government, said.

"We suspect the monkey is a wild animal and not a pet or something that escaped from research labs. We've checked with all the people and facilities that have permits to keep monkeys. We know none of them have escaped," he said.

He said officials including the police were trying to catch the animal before it harms humans or itself, but a rush of media interest could make the situation more delicate.

Story here.

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