Monkey that stole eggs, scratched child in Punggol HDB estate has been captured: AVA

The monkey was spotted snatching a woman's eggs, frolicking at the playground and scratching a boy.
The monkey was spotted snatching a woman's eggs, frolicking at the playground and scratching a boy.PHOTOS: JOSEPH TAN

SINGAPORE - A monkey that caused a stir in a Punggol Housing Board estate over the weekend has been captured, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said on Tuesday (Sept 5).

AVA told The Straits Times in an update on Tuesday that the agency has received "15 pieces of feedback from the public on monkey-related issues at Punggol Waterway" since Sept 1.

Some cited safety concerns, as the monkey snatched things from children and scratched a boy.

"The monkey has been caught to safeguard public safety and we are exploring relocation options," said AVA.

It had earlier told ST that it was working with the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council to monitor the situation after a monkey was spotted at a Housing Board estate encroaching on residents' space and scratching a child.

The monkey had been seen in the evenings over the weekend at Waterway Sunbeam, resident Joseph Tan told The Straits Times on Monday (Sept 4).

He first saw the monkey on Friday, and took pictures and videos of it eating oranges as well as eggs it had snatched from a passer-by, and hanging out at a playground.

The monkey appeared at the same block - Block 663C Punggol Drive - from 5pm to 6.20pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"I called both AVA and the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres)," said the 36-year-old entrepreneur.

He said it was the first time he had spotted a monkey at his home, and he followed it to see where it came from.

"I think it came from Coney Island, because we are connected by the water way."

Mr Tan said the monkey scratched the leg of a little boy who is four or five years old. It also climbed up outside the units of some flats, but he did not see it enter the residences.

"There was this auntie who bought a lot of groceries - at least three to four plastic bags of food. The monkey snatched the eggs from her," he said.

Mr Tan said he did not share the photos and videos to get the monkey culled, but instead hoped that it would help educate others on what to do when they encounter a wild monkey.

AVA said monkeys may carry zoonotic diseases that are harmful to public health, and aggressive monkeys are also a risk to public safety.

However, it stressed that its priority in managing Singapore's wild animal population is "to ensure public health and safety is not compromised".

It advises residents on how to mitigate the issues if the animals do not pose significant public health or safety concerns, including plugging up access points for wildlife or removing sources of food.

For animals that do pose significant public health or safety concerns - such as when animals enter premises and destroy property, injure residents, or are potential carriers of disease - AVA said it will "explore removal or relocation options where possible".

AVA advised the public not to feed monkeys as this alters their natural behaviour and causes them to become reliant on humans for food.

"As monkeys are attracted to food hand-outs from people, they may grab at plastic bags, or any other food containers that the monkeys have been conditioned to recognise," it said.

To make your home less attractive to monkeys, you can keep food items out of sight and practise good refuse management, including double-knotting garbage bags and disposing of garbage in bins with secured lids.

AVA gave the following guidelines on what to do if a monkey approaches you.

- Stop whatever you are doing immediately.

- Remain calm and quiet. Do not make sudden movements and do not maintain direct eye contact with the monkeys.

- Look away and back off slowly. Do not turn away from the monkeys and run.

- If you are holding an object which is attracting the monkeys, conceal or discard it.

- Do not try to hit the monkeys.

- If you have a child with you, put him/her on your shoulders. This will increase your perceived size, which could deter the monkeys from approaching you and your child.

- Keep away from the area until the monkeys have left.