Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer of Monkey Madness

The last month or so has been prime season for primates running amok. In early June, a pet monkey in Ohio unclipped itself from its leash and ran wild for a couple of hours, attacking and scratching two children before being recaptured. Just a few days later, a rhesus macaque was found to be missing from the Yerkes primate research center in Georgia, and at last report, neighbors are still cowering in their homes in fear of encountering it.

Later in the month, a repeat offender was found to be still on the run: the near-legendary Tampa Bay monkey was caught on video, proving a local's claim that the monkey is still out there and regularly visits his yard.

Monkey trouble has not been confined to North America. Also in June, Cambodian officials finally had to draw the line at a temple where the hooliganish behavior of a couple of hundred monkeys is usually tolerated. After a series of visitors were bitten, the worst of the "gangster" monkeys are being tranquilized and rounded up - this is after attempts to trap them using eggs laced with sleeping pills failed to fool the canny primates.

The most disturbing story of the pack, though, comes from India. In New Delhi, monkeys have learned how to work the new automatic doors at a hospital, and can now stroll in at will. If you think a monkey would be a nice diversion at visiting hours, think again:

They have terrorised patients, stealing food, playing with medical equipment, and attacking staff.

Worse, due to local cultural sensitivities, measures to deal with the problem are severely restricted:

Killing or trapping the monkeys was not an option, due to their association with the Hindu deity Hanuman... Authorities have taken steps to scare off the monkeys. They have hired two larger monkeys to chase them away.

That's right: their only recourse is to rely on other monkeys. Wish them luck.

Cartoon look inside the primate mind from Bizarro Comics thanks to Genius Chimp.

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