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Monkey Runs Amok in Urban Japan

September 13, 1999

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese city dwellers haven’t seen the last of their simian woes: A monkey escaped from a pet shop over the weekend and sank its teeth into two young bicycle riders.

In August, it was a sybaritic macaque that lived it up for weeks in an upscale Tokyo neighborhood. A month before that, a fugitive primate kidnapped pets and terrorized toddlers in Osaka.

The monkey caught last month in Tokyo eluded police for weeks before it was captured by a swimming pool attendant at a social club for Americans. The Osaka monkey became such a menace that police warned parents to keep their kids at home. Eventually, police say, it apparently returned to the hills that were its home.

The latest fugitive monkey was for sale at the ``Who and Me″ pet shop in Kawasaki, just south of Tokyo, when shopkeepers placed it outside to clean its cage.

The monkey took off, and police didn’t catch it until the following day, after it had wrought havoc of its own.

The first victim was a 10-year-old boy riding his bike near the shop, said police spokesman Noboru Asaoka. The monkey sprang from behind and bit the boy’s leg, causing a wound that newspapers say won’t heal for two weeks.

It then turned its sights on an 8-year-old girl, also riding her bicycle. Again it attacked from behind, clawing the girl’s back and right arm.

The monkey _ a species of macaque common in Japan _ was spotted loitering outside the local post office Sunday and apprehended by police with the help of its owner.

Monkeys have long infuriated farmers in rural Japan, where they damage crops, swipe food and bite humans. But recently simian demographics have mirrored those of humans, as tribes of wild monkeys desert the countryside to raid well-stocked grocery stores in urban areas.

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