A 71-year-old man was attacked and seriously injured by his pet monkey yesterday morning in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nob district.
The monkey was later killed by local authorities who feared it might attack again.
Long Chhi, a former Veal Rinh commune chief, had raised the 4-year-old monkey since infancy, and had kept it tethered to a tree on his property by a long chain, according to Veth Kong, current Veal Rinh commune chief.
Chhi also keeps fish and two fenced-in crocodiles as pets, Kong added.
“No one knew the monkey was angry with his owner until it attacked,” he said.
“The owner never beat the monkey; he often took care [of it] and gave it food every morning.”
Yesterday morning, however, Chhi visited the monkey with bananas, as he did each day, but the monkey bit and scratched the man, leaving deep wounds on his legs and body.
The monkey then unchained himself from the tree and fled.
Family members took Chhi to a local clinic, Kong said, explaining the incident was unprecedented for the commune.
Around 3pm, the monkey was found hiding in another villager’s home, said Seng Chamreoun, Prey Nob district deputy police chief.
“We did not plan to kill him,” he said, “but the home owners were scared . . . so then we decided to shoot it dead with a homemade gun.”
According to the Cambodia Wildlife Alliance, owning wild animals for purposes other than scientific research or breeding is illegal, as is killing them.
Nicola Scales, from Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society (PPAWS), said ownership of wild animals is not endemic in Cambodia, but rare animals are sometimes adopted when found abandoned in the wild, and more often are obtained by the rich, who see them as status symbols.
The danger of domesticating wildlife is steep, according to Scales.
“If [wild animals] are in heat or get upset, they can do a lot of damage to a person or house,” she said.
Seng Chamroeun said after the monkey was shot, the victim’s son carried the animal home.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY REBECCA MOSS