PHNOM PENH - A gang of big, "sharp-toothed" monkeys have been caught at a Phnom Penh temple as part of a crackdown on the unruly animals after a spate of attacks on visiting tourists, a zoo official said on Friday.
"Phnom Penh authorities asked us to remove the violent monkeys from the temple... The guards there said many visitors had been bitten by big monkeys," Nhek Rattanak Pich, director of Phnom Tamao Zoo and rescue centre, told AFP.
Veterinarians from the zoo tranquilised 13 macaques at the Wat Phnom pagoda on Tuesday and Friday and the operation is set to continue.
The temple is crowded with some 200 semi-tame macaques who occasionally cause havoc when they stray towards nearby homes and hotels, tearing tiles off roofs, destroying laundry and making off with items left lying around.
Cambodian police have described the macaques as "gangster" monkeys in the past after a failed attempt to trap them with eggs laced with sleeping pills. Authorities even put a $250 bounty on several of the animals’ heads.
A violent 20-kilogram (44-pound) monkey was shot dead in 2008 at the temple after it attacked visitors.
Pich said blood samples from the monkeys would be tested to check for diseases before the animals are sent either to the zoo or freed in remote forests near Tonle Sap lake, far away from the capital.
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