EYE ON THE NEWS – A MONKEY: INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY?

A monkey evaluating some material
Photo Credit: Getty Images

In April, a terrible incident happened in Central Delhi.  The initial report was that a 12-day old baby was grabbed from his mother by a monkey.  That the monkey ran off with the baby was the only account that didn’t have conflicting reports.  Several stated that the baby was severely bitten in the face.  Another report said that the police came and threw rocks at the monkey to get him or her to drop the baby.  But other reports said that people in the town were throwing rocks immediately.  It’s hard to know what was happening in the chaos that ensued, but the story that was popularly reported was that the baby was severely bitten in the face by the monkey.  Even early reports of the place where the baby was found were different: one said the baby was found in a well, another report said the baby was found on a rooftop.

In the throes of a violent event among humans only, there are two sides to the story, or mitigating reports of what may have occurred that could lessen a sentence for a human. In no way would anyone condone violent behavior just because an animal has committed the offense, but knowing the truth should be a goal. Animals have the cards stacked against them as they’ve no way to communicate a contradiction of false or confused accusations. It was reported in one article that the mother felt the monkey intentionally dropped the baby in the well, in another the father thought the monkey dropped the baby while fleeing.

What would have happened to the monkey, even all of the monkeys, if such an event had occurred in another country, but in Hinduism, monkeys are considered deities.  The government’s response was to use immunocontraception to reduce the population of monkeys, and to find the one monkey who snatched, and allegedly killed the baby. Wildlife Watch is in awe that the government had the good sense to not blame the other peace-loving monkeys. Taking a broad brush to paint an entire population, and not seeing the individuality of animals, happens all too often elsewhere.

We were further struck by the sympathy for all that was expressed by the government in pointing out that the environmental degradation of forest lands, where monkeys would normally live, have forced monkeys to find food and shelter in more populated areas. As we researched reports about this terribly sad and disturbing incident, we found that reports of monkey attacks on humans varied from being called “a rare occurrence” to being called “second only to dog attacks.”

In the monkeys’ defense, one report said thatWhile monkeys attacking humans or entering houses in search of food are fairly common, this is the first case in which one has run away with a baby.[This indicates that attacks of this nature are rare.]  In that same report, it quoted a doctor who had examined the baby’s body and said, “there were no serious injury marks.” [This finding indicates that the baby was not attacked as had been described.]

The doctor said it appeared to be “a case of asphyxia due to drowning…” 

None of the above can ever bring the baby back or dampen the shock and pain of the parents and the community.  The question is what should be done to prevent such an occurrence in the future, and for that we need the truth.

From the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2018/04/02/a-monkey-snatched-and-killed-a-newborn-family-claims/?utm_term=.70420bd4bd09

From the BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43615812