"You would think we were chasing an international fugitive instead of an innocent monkey."
Foiled By Birdseed
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has recaptured the escaped Japanese macaque that led authorities on a high-profile chase for nearly five days.
The macaque in question escaped its enclosure at Scotland's Highland Wildlife Park zoo on Sunday, prompting a frenzied search throughout the region. Japanese macaques, of course, aren't exactly Scottish locals; the event has reportedly been quite the ordeal for the area, especially considering how deft the monkey proved at evading recapture.
"You would think we were chasing an international fugitive," area local Carl Nagle, who caught sight of the macaque on Sunday night as it chomped down on the Scotsman's backyard birdseed, told The New York Times earlier this week, "instead of an innocent monkey."
Per the BBC, a local mountain rescue team — which usually tracks down missing human hikers — eventually pitched in, deploying its rescue drones to aid the monkey recovery mission. But even with the added aerial assistance, the RZSS had a tough time. At one point, a drone held a view of the monkey for about 45 minutes, and yet capture efforts were still unsuccessful.
Alas, according to the RZSS, the young male monkey's multiple-day tour of the Scottish Highlands is officially over. In a statement, the RZSS says it finally caught up with the critter after receiving a tip that the monkey was once again chowing down on some backyard birdseed. The RZSS and its "drone team" closed on the snacking primate, which was swiftly tranquilized and brought back to its keep.
"We can confirm," reads the RZSS's triumphant statement, that "we have successfully caught the macaque that escaped from the park on Sunday."
Per the NYT, macaques are quite intelligent and, though Scottish locals were told not to approach the animal, generally aren't seen as a threat to humans. But while the risk of macaque-to-human violence is low, macaques will get into tussles with one another — and according to zookeepers, that might just be why the recaptured monkey went on the lam to begin with.
It's breeding season for the macaques, and as the RZSS' Keith Gilchrist told the BBC on Monday, "tensions" during the mating season "run a little bit high." Fights often break out as a result, and it's believed that this young pacifist king just wanted to avoid a brawl.
And though his Highland vacation may have come to an end, the macaque certainly seems to have left his mark on the sleepy Scottish region.
"It looked at me," Nagle, recounting his birdseed-fueled interaction with the monkey, told the NYT. "I looked at him."
The moment was "shocking and wonderful all at once," he added.
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