Monkey attack in MacRitchie leaves woman with 13 stitches

Victoria Barker My Paper AsiaOne 27 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE - IT WAS meant to be a leisurely stroll with the family at MacRitchie Reservoir Park some time in September.

But the trip left housewife Audrey Best, who had been on a boardwalk with her in-laws, with 13 stitches to the last finger of her right hand.

The culprit: a macaque which attacked her suddenly in what Mrs Best, 33, termed a "freak accident".

The mother of a 15-month-old girl was behind her husband when they walked past a baby monkey and four adult monkeys.

"I felt scared and I happened to look one monkey in the eye. It all happened so quickly," she told My Paper over the phone yesterday.

"I remember feeling this intense pain after the monkey launched itself towards my face."

The monkey released her within seconds as her mother-in-law tried to scare it off immediately, using her hands.

Her English- teacher husband and father- in-law also scared off the monkeys by growling at them.

"I think when we walked away, they took it as a sign of retreat... Maybe the monkey thought I had food, (but) it definitely felt like a territorial attack," she suggested.

She noted that she had been the only person in her group who held a bag in her hand, while others carried sling bags or backpacks.

Mrs Best spent three nights in hospital and still attends hand occupational-therapy sessions every fortnight.

Dr Michael Gumert, a primate researcher from the Nanyang Technological University's psychology division, said that people can often provoke macaques without realising it.

Dr Gumert said: "They may have done something careless like move too quickly or move too close to the monkey.

"They (the macaques) may already be riled up and redirect aggression from a previous conflict."

One should avoid eye contact and stay as still as possible in the event a monkey becomes aggressive, he added.

In response to My Paper queries, Ms Kartini Omar, director of parks at the National Parks Board (NParks), said that monkeys would return to the forest for food, if food is not available from humans.

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