Friday, September 05, 2008

Wild Monkey Leads Tokyo Police On Chase

rogue monkey tokyoThe elusive primate has been giving authorities a headache since showing up on the streets of Japan's capital last month, repeatedly dodging net-wielding police.

"This monkey is driving us crazy," said Tadayoshi Toyama, a police official in the Kanda district. "It's so agile, and we only have nets."

The monkey - a Japanese macaque - first appeared at Tokyo's Shibuya station last month, gazing down at crowds from a schedule board before escaping from dozens of police and dashing to a park.

Since then, the creature - which some authorities suspect hitched a train ride from nearby mountains into the city - has been sighted repeatedly around Tokyo.

But it always manages to slip away before police can catch it.

The monkey has not hurt anyone so far, and Tokyo citizens have been delighted rather than alarmed by its appearances. At Shibuya, scores of commuters and children snapped photos of it with their mobile phones.

However, police are finding the monkey's antics less amusing.

Each sighting forces net-wielding officers to rush to the scene. Police had to mobilise 10 times over the last weekend alone, but without success.

On Monday, the monkey was seen sitting in front of a fruit shop staring at the bananas, but was apparently shooed away before snatching its breakfast, Mr Toyama said.

It was later spotted outside a nearby restaurant, then on a powerline, looking down at the police officers who arrived at the scene after a tip-off from a member of the public.

Mr Toyama said: "Then the monkey urinated to the ground. What a troublemaker. We have to catch him as soon as possible."

Yoshiaki Sagawa, an official at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, says the monkey is probably not a runaway pet because it appears to be untamed.

"It's probably a country monkey that has got lost from the troop and ended up in the city. Male monkeys sometimes act independently, and that's what might have happened," Mr Sagawa said.

The monkey is probably living on rainwater, leaves and berries on trees in the park, or from someone's yard, he said.

Monkeys are common in rural Japan where they have often damage crops, and have been known to bite humans. A rise in the monkey population in recent years has led to more of them foraging beyond forests into farms and towns.


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