"Biting, Clawing, Attacking" Monkeys are Terrorizing This Major City

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One staple of social media is "Rabbit Island," a small land mass in the Sea of Japan where cute, fluffy bunnies run wild and free and gather in crowds to greet onlookers and nibble treats.

This is not that.

Residents of Yamaguchi, a southwestern city in Japan, are being attacked by monkeys who are "trying to snatch babies, biting and clawing at flesh, and sneaking into nursery schools," the Associated Press reported this week. The feral primates, identified as Japanese macaques, seem particularly to target children and the elderly.

"They are so smart, and they tend to sneak up and attack from behind, often grabbing at your legs," Yamaguchi city official Masato Saito said Wednesday.

He added: "I have never seen anything like this my entire life."

Fifty-eight people have been attacked in the last week, prompting the city to hire a special unit to hunt the monkeys with tranquilizer guns.

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They attack in sleep

The type of monkey involved is the Japanese macaque. One monkey weighing 15 pounds was caught by the Ghostbusters-like team, which determined it was one of the attacking monkeys and had it euthanized.

No one has been seriously injured in a macaque attack, although the AP reports that ambulances have been called to attend to some cases. Perhaps obviously, anyone who has been in a monkey attack is advised to seek medical attention.

Some macaques have entered buildings through unlocked doors and windows, and one elderly man was attacked in his sleep, NBC News reported. Residents have been told to keep their doors and windows shut.

As for why the attacks are occurring, Mieko Kiyono, an expert in wildlife management and professor at Kobe University, told CNN that human-monkey conflicts are becoming more common as humans continue to infringe on the monkey's natural habitat. "Japanese macaque monkeys have coexisted alongside humans since the Edo period—Japan is very mountainous and communities live close to mountains where monkeys live, so it is easy for monkeys to enter villages and towns," she said.

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Umbrellas and scissors

Some residents of Yamaguchi are now carrying umbrellas and tree-cutting scissors to fend off attacking monkeys, the Agence France-Press reported.

Saito even offered some instructions about what to do if you find yourself in this real-life scene from Planet of the Apes: Don't look a monkey in the eye, make yourself look as big as possible, and back away quietly without making sudden moves.

The official defended the monkey-hunting policy. "It might be acceptable and understandable if they just ate agricultural crops alone," Saito told the New York Times. "But if they harm humans, we need to do something."