The Independent London Newspaper
26th October 2014

Letters

One visitor a month bitten by monkeys at London Zoo, safety report reveals

    Squirrel Monkey/DarienGS

    Pictured: Squirrel monkeys live in a 'walk-through' enclosure at London Zoo. [Photo: FlickR/DarienGS]

    Published: 6 June 2013
    by RICHARD OSLEY

    WITH their cherubic little faces, the acrobatic yellow and black squirrel monkeys jumping through the creepers at London Zoo look like they wouldn’t hurt a fly.

    But a health and safety inspection has revealed those angelic looks may be a little deceiving with a file note reporting how a string of visitors to the zoo in Regent’s Park have sustained monkey bites.

    It says 15 people were bitten by the squirrel monkeys over a 12-month period last year, working out at just over one bite on average every month. The data is in a report released by neighbouring Westminster Council to the New Journal following a Freedom of Information request.

    The monkeys’ “behavioural” problems led to a ban on pushchairs at their enclosure, it adds.

    Inspectors from the council made their last ‘informal’ visit to the zoo late last year.

    The report confirms the well-documented loss of life in the penguin pool after an outbreak of malaria last summer and the moving of a gorilla away from the Gorilla Kingdom paddock after tests found he was “infertile”. It also discusses how the zoo would deal with a tiger escaping, adding: “The decision as to who would be responsible for shooting the tiger outside the ZSL grounds has not been finalised.”

    It is in the squirrel monkey “walk-through” enclosure, however, where inspectors found visitors have been left startled.

    Their "revolutionary" enclosure was launched eight years ago with visitors able to walk through to get as close to the monkeys as possible.

    But the safety report said: "The squirrel monkeys in the walk-through enclosure are still undergoing additional negative enforcement due to some behavioural issues. These involve mainly grabbing of food from members of the public. There have been 15 bites over the past year, none serious, all reported to first aid."

    It added: "There is now a no pushchair policy in the enclosure as they were a major target for the monkeys looking for food. Negative re-enforcement is implemented mainly by painting a bitter apple substance on objects of desire such as mobile phones used by volunteers."

    A spokeswoman for ZSL said: "Squirrel monkeys are naturally very curious and our family of cheeky Bolivian squirrel monkeys is no exception, which has occasionally led to a small nip on a visitor’s hand. To help avoid this, we have volunteers based in the walk-through exhibit who can remind people not to get too close to our monkeys and resist the temptation to give them a stroke."

     

    Comments

    Biting monkeys

    These monkeys are still at it, I was bitten yesterday.

    biten

    I got bit by one yesterday.

    Sickening

    JUSt more proof that the crazed lefties that run that dirty mess care more for having dangerous animals in a city full of OAPs and kiddies than public saftey!

    squirrel monkey issue

    However endearing, and charming these little fellows seem, they are still wild animals. It would appear to be a rather less-than-well-thought-out idea to have visitors and monkeys occupying the same space--unless there is the expectancy of a bite or two.
    It is unacceptable to modify the animals' behaviour when it is in their nature to be inquisitive and to nibble and nip.
    Keep the monkeys and the public on seperate sides of the fence and avoid potential nasty issues.
    I know..........people like to 'walk with the animals'.

    The little shits

    The little shits

    Mistaken blame

    Obviously the monkeys are teaching us to have a little more respect and understanding. If you want to stroke something, buy a cuddly toy.

    Who'sto say there is a fault?

    I'm not sure that there is anyone at fault. Surely its simply a point of information and no one is calling for the closure of the walk through area.

    i think both were

    i think both were wrong,because the people are too careless and the monkeys are evil

    Misplaced blame

    Surely this is more the fault of the humans than the monkeys?

    Yes, this is clearly a

    Yes, this is clearly a behavioural problem - the behavior of the idiots who are letting people bring food into the monkey's home and then saying there's a problem with the monkeys when they try to take the food. These are wild animals; of course they're taking the food. I know people who can't even train their dogs not to steal food.

    Monkey Bites at London Zoo

    Agreed. The instructions on entry are clear - don't bring food into the enclosure. I think a lot of visitors think that if their kids are eating an ice-cream, that somehow doesn't count as 'food'...

    One-sided argument

    Certainly. If people try to touch wild animals what can they really expect?

    I agree!

    I've seen it myself, visitors CHOOSE to ignore the signs that warn them of the biting. Its a shame that such a good enclosure is getting such bad representation because of these idiots. Another common sight is the visitors offering the monkeys the same rubbish they feed themselves and their kids, stuff full of sugar, e numbers and salt, do you seriously think that's a good idea?! Seriously?! I've frequently been visiting London Zoo for 2 years and have never seen an unprovoked attack from these sweet squirrel monkeys.

    I agree!

    I've seen it myself, visitors CHOOSE to ignore the signs that warn them of the biting. Its a shame that such a good enclosure is getting such bad representation because of these idiots. Another common sight is the visitors offering the monkeys the same rubbish they feed themselves and their kids, stuff full of sugar, e numbers and salt, do you seriously think that's a good idea?! Seriously?! I've frequently been visiting London Zoo for 2 years and have never seen an unprovoked attack from these sweet squirrel monkeys.

    London Zoo Squirrel Monkeys

    Personally I think it's more behaviour difficulties with some of the visitors. I've seen people trying to give them packets of cigarettes, crisps and on one occasion a lady trying to encourage two of them onto her back pack!

    I agree. The monkeys cannot

    I agree. The monkeys cannot leave the enclosure when they get tired of being viewed.

    Post new comment

    By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.