Children told not to play alone as Highland monkey still on loose

Monkey on loose
Monkey on loose

Schoolchildren were told not to go out alone in a village in the Scottish Highlands on Monday, over fears of attack from an escaped monkey which remained on the loose.

A heat-seeking drone failed to find a Japanese macaque that broke out of Highland Wildlife Park on Sunday and had been spotted by locals patrolling back gardens in the nearby village of Kincraig.

Keepers deployed a drone with heat seeking technology on Monday to track down the animal, which is believed to have fled its home after getting into a fight. However, the search was called off without success as darkness descended.

One parent of a child at Alvie Primary School said safety measures had been implemented as a precaution after the monkey was sighted in its grounds. While typically shy, Japanese macaques have been known to attack humans by biting or scratching.

“We were told the monkey had been spotted there and that the kids were only allowed out to play in small groups while under close supervision of a teacher,” a parent said.

“The whole village is keeping its eyes out for it.”

The monkey is believed to have escaped from its enclosure early on Sunday. It travelled more than a mile to Kincraig, a small village, where it was spotted by locals that morning.

The drone was seen overhead in woodland to the north of the Kincraig, after the animal was seen in gardens bordering the estate.

“It was here on Sunday, just calmly walking through the gardens,” Jo Murray, whose home backs onto the woods, told The Telegraph.

“It’s been very interested in the bird feeders which most of us have here. We’ve been told to take them in in the hope that it will make its way back home but I’m worried it will have lost its way.

“The woods go on for miles so it’s going to be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Keepers hope the Japanese macaque will maker his way home when he gets hungry
Keepers hope the Japanese macaque will maker his way home when he gets hungry

“I’ve become quite addicted to just looking out of the window in case it comes back. It’s quite a way for it to have travelled already, and there are some busy roads here, so I feel quite worried about it.”

Locals have been urged to call a mobile phone number if they see the monkey. On Monday, the drone team was responding to calls, after a series of sightings, but was unable to track it down.

It shared an enclosure with more than 30 other Japanese macaques at the wildlife park, which is run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS).

The RZSS confirmed that the escape had been believed to have been caused by a fight with another monkey.

“This time of year is breeding season so tensions run a little bit high and sometimes fights break out over breeding rights,” Keith Gilchrist, of the RZSS, said.

Chilled-out snow monkeys
On very odd occasions, the animals have attacked humans - EPA/Everett Kennedy Brown

“When that happens, the animals’ adrenaline can sometimes override everything and rather than get into a fight it seems this one has just gone for it and got past the enclosure perimeter fence.”

Darren McGarry, head of living collections at RZSS said: “A team of our charity’s expert keepers are patrolling the village in order to locate and return the macaque that escaped.

“We are asking anyone who spots him to call or email with information. Although we don’t expect the monkey to be a threat to the public or pet animals, he should not be approached.

“We are doing everything we can to locate the macaque.

“Locals are being encouraged to bring in any food that is kept outside, such as food waste bins and bird feeders to encourage the monkey to return to the park once he is hungry.”

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