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Monkey Has Trouble Fitting In

June 6, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Last year Azami was Japan’s most-wanted monkey.

Now she’s just another face in the crowd at a primate park in western Tokyo _ and the adjustment hasn’t been easy.

The female macaque grabbed headlines last summer when she was spotted running loose in an upscale Tokyo neighborhood.

After eluding pursuers for two months _ during which time television cameras occasionally caught her scampering across city rooftops _ she was captured in August and sent to live with 75 other simians.

But Azami, as her keepers dubbed her, has found making friends harder than making the news.

``She’s not good at communicating,″ said Hiroyuki Shino, director of the Takao Monkey Center in Kichijoji, western Tokyo. ``She’ll allow herself to be groomed but she doesn’t return the favor.″

Shino said her habits suggest she was probably raised as a pet.

That makes it especially difficult for her to interact with the monkeys at the park, who are even more group-oriented than their cousins in the wild.

``We knew it would be difficult for her to be accepted,″ said Shino. ``But since she was kept as a pet she doesn’t understand the basic rules of monkey society.″

Zookeepers have placed Azami in a separate cage with a well-adjusted older female monkey who doesn’t seem to mind the selfish simian’s grooming habits or star status.

Macaques are among the most common wild animals in Japan. The are regarded as a public nuisance in many regions, damaging crops, swiping food from grocery stalls and even biting humans.

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