People must be cautious in the vicinity of monkeys, especially while eating, experts warned, after a woman got her hand severely injured by a macaque at Kaohsiung’s Shoushan Zoo last month.
The woman, a sanitation worker in her 60s surnamed Lee (李), was eating a sandwich when a group of macaques approached her and one of them reached for her food.
Lee reportedly tried to drive away the monkeys when one of them scratched her left hand, severing the tendon of her ring finger.
Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times
The woman underwent several surgeries and remained in hospital for about a week, Kaohsiung Municipal Ta-tung Hospital said.
She has yet to fully recover from the injury, it added.
The zoo’s management office on Friday said that its personnel works very hard to inform the zoo’s 240,000 annual visitors not to interact with or provoke the macaques.
However, Taiwan Macaque Coexistence Promotion Association secretary-general Lin Mei-yin (林美吟) said that the zoo should train its personnel better to prevent such accidents.
When a monkey reaches for their food, people should let go of it and walk off, as the animal is likely to leave them alone, Lin said.
Monkeys recognize plastic bags and bottles as containers of food, so people should not carry such items openly when in the vicinity of the animals, she added.
In response, Shoushan Zoo director Chuang Hsuan-chih (莊絢智) said that the macaques in the zoo have adapted their behavior to being fed by visitors.
“When visiting Shoushan, you should keep food items in your backpack and check the trees for macaques before you eat,” he said. “Macaques do not attack people out of aggression. Their motivation is usually getting people’s food.”
Most monkey attacks happen when people carry plastic bags or bottles, Chuang said.
People should avoid eye contact with monkeys, as the animals might consider this provocative, he said.
When a monkey reaches for a person’s food, it is advised to surrender it to the animal, as an altercation with a monkey can lead to serious injuries, Chuang said.
When a monkey reaches into a person’s bag, it is best to keep calm and not interfere with the animal, he said, adding that monkeys are only interested in food items kept in the bag.
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