Monkey menace hits Guwahati zoo, authorities mull sterilization

Monkey menace has reached alarming proportions in a zoo in Guwahati, Assam, as they harass the visitors and leave them injured.

Despite the fact that the zoo has a dense forest within its fold, the monkeys seldom stay there. Instead, they cross over to the visitors' zone.

The monkeys have destroyed zoo property and attacked people in the past. An environment of fright and chaos has gripped the zoo.

Pinku Borkuch, a visitor to the zoo, said that this had become a perennial problem in the zoo premises.

He added that many a time the monkeys have shown aggression towards children and have harmed them, leaving them injured.

"The monkeys here as you can see are roaming freely. They come here because during winters they don't get much to eat up in the hills. Here they snatch fruits or chips etc from the hands of the visitors. So, if they steal from the hands of a child then the child can get hurt or get an infection from it. If you try to chase them away they counter-attack," added Borkuch.

The primate problem had become such a big headache that the zoo authorities and Dr. M.L. Smith, a vet at the zoo, were considering sterilizing them to prevent rapid multiplication of the population.

Smith also said that capturing the monkeys was a herculean task and was far from easy.

"Our steps to control this menace are in the initial stage. We want to surgically sterilize the monkeys so that their breeding rate comes down. Also, catching these monkeys is not easy, especially catching them for a second time. So, this is in a trial and error stage as of now," added Smith.

The zoo authorities have already started the sterilization process and they are bringing the monkeys one by one, under the scalpel to perform vasectomy and tubectomy on them. So far, five monkeys have been operated upon.

The monkeys operated upon will be marked to identify them from the rest. Apart from this, the authorities have also decided that all the enclosures in the future would be built in such a way, that the monkeys cannot breach them.

The monkey population in the zoo was estimated to be over 500.