Japanese city alarmed by biting, clawing, attacking monkeys

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. sneak into / snik ˈɪn tu / (phrasal v.) – to enter a place quietly so that one isn’t seen or heard

    The thieves snuck into the store in the middle of the night.

  2. tranquilizer / ˈtræŋ kwəˌlaɪ zər / (n.) – a drug that’s used to make people or animals sleepy or unconscious

    The dog was given a tranquilizer before the surgery.

  3. back away / bæk əˈweɪ / (phrasal v.) – to move backward and away from someone or something, usually because of danger

    The woman backed away after she saw the tiger on the loose.

  4. take aback / teɪk əˈbæk / (phrasal v.) – to surprise or shock someone so much, usually causing him/her to be unable to react right away

    I was taken aback by the news of my aunt’s death.

  5. terrorize / ˈtɛr əˌraɪz / (v.) – to make someone extremely afraid, usually because of the threat of being attacked

    The wild bear terrorized the tourists so much that they left the place early.


Read the text below.

People in a southwestern Japanese city have come under attack from monkeys that are trying to snatch babies, biting and clawing at flesh, and sneaking into nursery schools.

The attacks — on 58 people since July 8 — are getting so bad that Yamaguchi city hall hired a special unit to hunt the animals with tranquilizer guns.

The monkeys aren’t interested in food, so traps haven’t worked. They have targeted mostly children and the elderly.

“They are so smart, and they tend to sneak up and attack from behind, often grabbing at your legs,” city official Masato Saito said.

When confronted by a monkey, the instructions are: Do not look them in the eye, make yourself look as big as possible, such as by spreading open your coat, then back away as quietly as possible without making sudden moves, according to Saito.

A woman was assaulted by a monkey while hanging laundry on her veranda. Another victim showed bandaged toes. They were taken aback and frightened by how big and fat the monkeys were.

The monkeys terrorizing the community are Japanese macaques, the kind often pictured peacefully bathing in hot springs.

One male monkey, measuring 49 centimeters (1.6 feet) in height and weighing 7 kilograms (15 pounds), was caught by the team with the tranquilizer gun. It was judged by various evidence to be one of the attacking monkeys and put to death.

But more attacks were reported after the capture.

No one has been seriously injured so far. But all have been advised to get hospital treatment. Ambulances were called in some cases.

Although Japan is industrialized and urban, a fair portion of land in the archipelago is mountains and forests. Rare attacks on people by a bear, boars or other wildlife have occurred, but generally not by monkeys.

No one seems to know why the attacks have occurred, and where exactly the troop of monkeys came from remains unclear.

“I have never seen anything like this my entire life,” Saito said.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • No one seems to know why the attacks occurred or where exactly the troop of monkeys came from. What do you think caused the monkeys to attack people (ex. the monkeys were attacked first, the monkeys’ home was disturbed)? Discuss.
  • What do you think locals in the affected areas should do (ex. avoid going out, avoid areas heavily affected by the attacks)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • One male monkey that was said to be attacking people was put to death. Do you think it was the right course of action? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • People were given instructions on what to do when faced with the monkeys. If you were confronted by a monkey, do you think you’ll be able to act accordingly? Why or why not? Discuss.