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A school for monkeys

Vrinda Sharma

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government has sought clearance from the Central Zoo Authority to set up an ultra-modern facility to tame, rehabilitate and teach manners to rogue monkeys.

The first-of-its-kind monkey school will provide inmates with medical care and good-behaviour training. “In addition to veterinary doctors, the centre will have experts and it would be a sort of good manners school for the monkeys,” said a senior official of the Punjab Wildlife Department, on Friday.

Alarming situation

“There have been several cases of monkey bites and the problem has reached such an alarming situation that every week there are one or two cases of monkey biting from across the district. This is why we have decided to build a rehabilitation centre adjacent to a mini zoo in Patiala. This will be the first such centre in the State,” Chief Wildlife Warden of Punjab R.K. Luna said.

According to Mr. Luna, the monkey population has reached 50,000 in the State and around 10,000 in Patiala. The aim is to target monkeys that pose a serious threat to people in Punjab, as the animals move into towns and cities looking for food. They usually create havoc by chasing and attacking residents, injuring them and snatching their belongings.

Complaints with civic bodies and Divisional Forest Offices have been pending mainly because there is no place the animals can be kept after they are caught.

Jasmer Singh, DFO Wildlife, Patiala, said: “Once the centre is functional, forest officials in Punjab will be able to catch monkeys from residential areas and send them across so that they can be taught to be decent and live socially with other monkeys.”

Bad behaviour

Officials accuse them of a variety of bad behaviour from terrorising children to destroying property. Macaque monkeys destroy TV antennae, tear down clothes lines and damage scooters and motorcycles.

“Besides people landing in hospitals after encounters with monkeys, the animals also often get hurt when house owners try to chase them away or keep them out by using live electric wires and other means,” Mr. Luna added.

Minister for Forests and Wildlife Tikshan Sud said the case file had been sent to the Central Zoo Authority and a location on Dakala Road in Patiala identified.

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