After being closed for three months, the Santo Inacio Zoo has reopened only to have one of their monkeys maul a five-year-old, resulting in the loss of the child’s finger.
A rare, horrifying incident took place Friday at a popular northern Portugal Zoo. As the zoo reopens after a three-month Pandemic closure, a monkey of unspecified species grabbed and bit the hand of a young child on the cage of its enclosure. After clamping down on one of his fingers, the money then pulled and removed it from the 5-year-old’s hand.
The child, whose name has not been released by local officials, was rushed to a nearby hospital immediately. MailOnline cites the “youngster was with his family and playing by the cage the animal was in when the incident occurred on Friday morning” at Santo Inacio Zoo.
The Zoo then allowed a police officer to enter the cage and recover the child’s missing finger. A spokesperson for local GNR police force says the attack occurred around 11 a.m. Porto time, April 9. Santo Inacio itself is located in Vila Nova de Gaia near Porto, Portugal.
The zoo has yet to comment on the incident. Their facility houses around 600 animals annually. Before the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, their popular attractions brought 1.5 million visitors per year. Rare exhibits, like the Asian Lion and Amur Tiger, are a big draw to Santo Inacio.
Monkey Attack Comes after ‘Change in Attitude and Behaviour’ amid Pandemic
Among their species, Santo Inacio specified last month that the behavior of around 200 animal groups at the zoo had “changed during the lockdown closure.”
“There is a change in attitude and behaviour that is noticeable in the transition phases… When we have visitors and we no longer have them, and when we start to have them again,” cites zoo vet Carla Monteiro. She says the animals were not getting ample interaction during closure. This, combined with increased sleep, may be what led to the monkey‘s unusual attack.
Porto is expected to launch a full investigation into the attack.
As for the five-year-old victim, Portugal specialists in both child and plastic surgery are with the boy at Sao Joao Hospital Friday, MailOnline states. It is unclear, however, if the specialists have been able to reattach the child’s finger retrieved from the monkey enclosure.
In U.S. zoos, it is exceptionally rare for monkey exhibits to feature open-wire or accessible habitats. Like us closely related humans, both monkey and ape species are unpredictable. A restructuring of Santo Inacio Zoo’s primate exhibits may also follow the attack.