Three Months Of Monkey Madness

Monkey uses Yamanote train line in Tokkyo, Japan.A wild monkey has been loose in Tokyo for three months. On Aug. 20 the Japanese macaque appeared in Shibuya station in Tokyo. Morning rush hour commuters cleared a path for more than 30 net-carrying cops who arrived to capture the ape. The monkey, then perched atop a ceiling-mounted timetable display, calmly watched the police cordon off the area. The monkey eluded the police and fled the scene as TV crews and cops chased the monkey. The monkey pursuit video and the story was reported worldwide.

The monkey has been spotted several times in the Tokyo city limits. Witnesses have provided grainy  video suggestive of UFO and Bigfoot images. Television news reporters have wondered if more than one wild monkey is running around Tokyo. (Monkey timeline)

Meanwhile, the monkey seems to be enjoying the sights of the city. A Lets Japan review of monkey sightings indicates the macaque has stayed within the Yamanote railway loop line, which circles central Tokyo. (see diagram).


Shibuya station is on the Yamanote line. Lets Japan suggests the monkey is using the Yamanote line to get around the city.

Trains in Tokyo are usually packed with commuters during the morning and evening rush hours. A small monkey could easily travel unnoticed. The monkey is small enough to pass under the gates of the ticket wickets, so a PASMO card would not be necessary.

Riding a train without paying is illegal. However, the monkey has already broken several city and national laws. The infractions include failure to be leashed, utilizing a railway without the supervision of an adult ape, disobeying police orders to halt, and fraudulenty claiming a public park as a home address. Additionally, Lets Japan believes the monkey also grabbed a police cap from an officer’s head Aug. 20, which would be a charge of theft of official property.

Shibuya monkey and ticket wicket height, Tokyo, Japan.School children in Tokyo, JapanDressing as an elementary school student – with large cap and knapsack – would allow the money to blend in with the crowds. Tokyo police have recently begun asking school kids to remove their hats for identity checks.

Finding one’s way around Tokyo can be challenging for newcomers. But our monkey friend has learned quickly. The macaque seems to be enjoying its fame and exploring the neighborhoods along the loop line.

Bad Time To Be A Monkey In The City

In October a widely-viewed TV program reported that a banana-based diet will increase weight loss. Supermarkets in Japan were soon reporting banana shortages, and banana prices increased. Yes, stores had no bananas. Without easy access to bananas, a rogue urban monkey could become distraught, and violent.

Shibuya Monkey Desperate?

Because of the monkey threat, police warned greengrocers to watch their storefront banana displays. Some vendors have their bananas under 24-hour armed guard. Grocery employees are checking ID’s to be sure only humans purchase bananas. Some outlets allow only one banana per human.

A specialist who studies primates predicts that without easy access to sidewalk banana displays, the Shibuya monkey will be forced to turn itself in or face starvation. The scholar urged the monkey to give up. "We’ll do our best to provide fresh bananas to you," he said. "And as a side benefit, you will lose some of your monkey fat." If the monkey is sentenced to prison, according to Japanese jail rules, special diet needs of inmates, including primates, must be provided.

Toky's Shibuya stationmonkey, August 20, 2008.A lack of the monkey’s favorite fruit at easy-to-reach sidewalk produce stands could lead the monkey – or monkeys – to leave the city. Unable to adjust to different foods, our little monkey friend may become frustrated and desire to return to the forest on the outskirts of the metropolitan area.

Give Monkey Space

If the monkey begins a journey home, it’s likely more monkey sightings will be reported.

If you spot the monkey, keep a safe distance. A hungry wild urban homeless monkey on the lam may be delusional and incoherent. On trains, please give your seat to the monkey, so the monkey does not have to hang from a hand strap. Pregnant women and the elderly should also make room for the monkey. Thank you for your understanding.


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