An orangutan in a Malaysian wildlife sanctuary snatched a French tourist's backpack and bit her while pulling off her shoes, socks and pants, the tourist said today.
But an official denied the animal, a large ape, had bitten the woman.
The tourist, who asked to be identified only as Odile, was taking photographs Sunday of Delima — a female orangutan roaming free in Malaysia's Semenggoh Wildlife Center on Borneo island — when the animal grabbed at her backpack, said Wilfred Landong, chief park warden of Malaysia's Sarawak state.
They tussled over the bag and Delima ripped Odile's pants, Landong said.
"She had scratches and bruise marks on her knees and thighs," he said, adding that park rangers gave her medical treatment.
Odile said she had not tried to touch or otherwise harass the animal, saying she was only been trying to take its photo.
She said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that she'd let Delima have her bag after the orangutan grabbed it and then apparently searched it for something to eat, but found nothing.
She referred to Delima as "he."
"He took my shoes and socks off, and then tried to take off my trousers," Odile wrote. "As he couldn't with his hands only, he tried with his teeth and that's when I got bitten. As soon as he got my trousers he went away."
Landong said the park considered what happened to be "an accident" — not an attack. He said that Delima had only scratched Odile, and that bites would have caused more serious injuries.
"We are not faulting anyone," he said. "But we remind tourists that they should not go too near the orangutans."