On Monday afternoon, residents of Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture, reported seeing a monkey that had wandered into the area near Fujikawa Station. In response, city hall dispatched three municipal employees and one contracted specialist, armed with tranquilizer rifles, to subdue the animal.
The four monkey hunters arrived at the station shortly before 3 p.m. and summoned a woman who had seen the monkey so that she could supply them with more information. It seems that her report was cut short, though, because while she was still at the scene she herself was shot by a tranquilizer dart, causing her to lose consciousness.
▼ The type of dart she was shot with is roughly 150 millimeters in length with a 30-millimeter tip.
And no, the monkey hadn’t managed to procure weaponry of its own and launch a counter-offensive. The dart, which lodged itself in the woman’s left arm, came from one of the human hunters’ rifles. City officials say that while the woman was at the scene, the hunters were taping the barrels of their rifles, to prevent air leakage, and in the process one of them inadvertently pulled on the trigger of his weapon, discharging it.
The woman was taken to the hospital, where she regained consciousness roughly an hour later, but it wasn’t until another hour after that that she was lucid enough to properly communicate (the dart had contained a tranquilizer dose sized to subdue a 15-kilogram monkey). Thankfully, she suffered no injuries and was discharged that same day, but the incident still seems more like something you’d expect from a sketch comedy act than an official animal control operation, and has produced reactions on Twitter such as:
“So slapstick comedy scenarios like this can actually happen in real life…I bet the monkey is laughing at the humans’ dumb mistake.”
“Can’t help laughing at this.”
“Good thing it wasn’t a bear-sized tranquilizer dose. Things would have turned out a lot worse.”
“Really a rookie mistake on the weapon handlers’ parts.”
The last commenter makes a good point. Doing any necessary maintenance work on the rifle before loading it with ammunition seems like a no-brainer, and one of the first rules of gun safety is to never point one at something you’re not OK shooting, regardless of whether it’s loaded or not.
In light of what happened, some may question whether the city really needed to send a team to capture the monkey in the first place. However, despite their penchant for taking relaxing soaks in mountain hot springs, Japan’s monkeys aren’t always so peaceful in nature. This summer, for instance, more than 60 people have been attacked by monkeys in Yamaguchi City, with some victims being asleep in their beds inside their homes when the monkeys began clawing and biting them. Fuji City has had several monkey sittings over the past month in parts of the city where the animals don’t ordinarily dwell, including along streets used by schoolchildren heading to Fujikawa Station as part of their commute, which has also prompted the dispatch of adult monitors keeping watch for the creatures during the morning and afternoon hours.
The Fuji City government has issued an apology to the woman and pledged an investigation and policy review to prevent accidental discharges from happening again. Meanwhile, the monkey remains at large, and hopefully any further teams sent to capture it will be made up of different members.
Sources: NHK News Web via Hachima Kiko, Jiji, FNN Prime Online, Twitter
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