Hunt Launched After Rampaging Monkey Attacks Kids, Tries to Drag Baby Away

Police in Japan are searching for a wild monkey or monkeys thought to be responsible for a spate of attacks on people, including young children.

In the Ogori area of the city of Yamaguchi in southern Japan, four children had been injured in a week according to local news station TV Yamaguchi.

In one reported incident, a monkey entered a classroom on the second floor of a kindergarten, and a 4-year-old child was scratched. A staff member arrived to help, at which point the monkey used the stairs to escape.

Other incidents this month have involved a child being bitten whilst taking a nap in a nursery school while another was scratched in an elementary school.

Japanese macaque
Police in Yamaguchi, Japan, are on alert after a spate of monkey attacks against young children. The above stock photo shows a Japanese macaque, the species of monkey that's attacking the kids. Ben185/Getty

"I was vacuuming in the living room and heard the sound of my baby crying loudly," said the mother of one baby who was attacked, according to The Times, citing local television news in Yamaguchi. "When I went in to check there was a monkey pulling the baby across the floor as if trying to make off with it."

It's not only children who have been victims of the attacks. Women in their seventies and eighties are also reported to have been attacked, including one who was hanging out laundry on her balcony. One adult woman was reportedly bitten on her feet after a monkey ripped through her balcony fly screen.

In addition to the attacks on children, there have been 40 monkey sightings in the area between May and July. Some news reports on the attacks suggest a single monkey, roughly 40 to 50 centimeters in height, is responsible, while the TV Yamaguchi report, translated from Japanese, uses the plural "monkeys."

Police have been put on alert and traps have been set up in an effort to capture the animal or animals. In addition, locals have been warned not to leave their windows open.

Japan is home to a species of monkey known as the Japanese macaque or snow monkey. It's found on three of the four main Japanese islands and lives in a variety of habitats.

Living further north than any other macaque species, the monkeys can thrive in winter temperatures and snow according to the New England Primate Conservancy. To keep warm, the monkeys are known to make use of natural hot springs.

Despite the attacks in Yamaguchi, Japanese macaques are a protected species and as such there are legal bans on hunting them alongside protection in wildlife parks throughout Japan.

Macaques in general are controversially used in animal research.