Update: A Japanese city thought it had a problem with one wild monkey. Now, however, it appears the problem is wild monkeys, plural. At least 45 people around the Japanese city of Yamaguchi have been attacked in 19 days, according to a government official. The rare attacks have doubled in recent days, raising doubts that a single animal is to blame, per CNN. Dozens have been bitten or scratched, though no serious injuries have been reported. Police officers have reportedly set traps and are keeping watch with tranquilizer guns. Our original story from July 19 follows:
A rogue monkey has been terrorizing a city in western Japan, with at least 14 people bitten or scratched in the space of 10 days. Police in Yamaguchi have stepped up patrols to search for the Japanese macaque, which is 15 to 20 inches tall, and residents have been urged not to leave their windows open, the Mainichi reports. There are more than 100,000 wild monkeys in Japan, and while authorities have suggested a single monkey is responsible for the attacks, some local news reports have used the plural, Newsweek notes.
The monkey victims include a baby who was badly scratched, the Guardian reports. The baby's mother told local media she heard the child crying and turned around to see that the monkey had grabbed the infant by the legs and appeared to be trying to pull her away. At least three monkey attacks occurred in schools, including a nursery school where a child was bitten while taking a nap. The monkey has also gone after elderly women, including a woman who was attacked while hanging out laundry on her balcony. Authorities say there have been around 40 monkey sightings in the area since May. (Read more Japan stories.)