More than a month has passed since a monkey was spotted in the posh Nishi Azabu district of Tokyo’s Minato Ward, and with residents leaving it scraps of food, the area has become the primate’s second home.
However, some animal experts say the monkey may suffer from malnutrition if it stays in the metropolis.
The first spotting of the monkey came June 16, when Nishi Azabu residents saw it perched atop a concrete fence.
Later sightings were reported at several locations, including a condominium complex in Roppongi and a girls’ high school, as the monkey crisscrossed the ward from west to east.
For the past two weeks or so, the monkey-spotting reports have generally come from an area within about a 100-meter radius of Mamiana Park, located along the west side of the Russian Embassy.
Because the area is a relatively lush part of central Tokyo with many large residences and yards, it appears that the monkey has decided to make this area its home, observers say.
A 24-year-old housewife living nearby said she came upon the monkey last Wednesday afternoon as it was walking near the entrance of a condominium.
“Although there was less than a meter between me and the monkey, the animal seemed confident, while I was totally taken by surprise,” she said.
Local residents said some of the people living in the condominium leave food such as bananas and peaches at the building entrance for the monkey from time to time.
But some express concern over the length of time the monkey has been living in Tokyo’s concrete jungle.
Eiji Kanda is head of the Tokyo Wild Animal Research Center and a volunteer in wild animal protection. He points out that it is uncertain how long local residents will continue to feed the monkey.
“The city also lacks a lot of insects, which are an important source of protein, and this monkey may suffer from malnutrition” if its urban life continues for an extended period of time, Kanda warned.
The monkey in question is believed to have been separated from its troop from the Okutama area in western Tokyo.
While experts say that male monkeys often move from troop to troop after adolescence, females do not follow such behavior. Thus, if this monkey is female, as it is believed, it may be very difficult for her to find her troop and return on her own.
“The best thing is for the monkey to be captured and then returned to its group, but I wonder whether (authorities) will be successful in finding the troop. Humans may have to continue taking care of her,” Kanda said.