A group of visitors threw stones at a chimpanzee in Alipore Zoological Gardens on Tuesday morning, provoking the primate to pay them back in their own coin.
The chimp kept pelting stones at the visitors for half-an-hour since 9.15am, prompting them to run for safety, ducking the missiles all the way. Fortunately, no one was injured in the brick-batting between the distant cousins.
The zoo authorities have deployed keepers around the cages and enclosures to protect the animals, but on Tuesday, they were far outnumbered by the record count of heads — 62,000 — the highest in recent years on Christmas.
“It is only normal that the chimpanzee got irritated when visitors threw stones at it. It may have chucked back a few stones, but we have not received any complaints in this regard,” said zoo director S.K. Chaudhuri. “Such incidents are quite common.”
They definitely are. On December 5, two chimpanzees broke open their enclosure and ran amok on the grounds after a visitor threw a stone at them.
The live-in partners pushed a woman and scratched another, swung from branch to branch and ran around in circles for half-an-hour, till they were chased back to their enclosure.
Following the December 5 incident, the zoo management had decided to reinforce the locks and fences of the animal enclosures. The chimpanzee home is now protected by two locks and a chain.
“Visitors should know how to behave in a zoo. Annoying animals could be fatal, as had happened in the Guwahati zoo, where a visitor was mauled to death by a tiger while he was photographing the animal,” said an Alipore zoo official.