Five monkeys spotted descending Jalan Besar HDB block in viral video

Primatologist Andie Ang shares that monkeys do not usually jump or bite people, unless in distress or in defence

Screen grab of 5 monkeys sliding down Jalan Besar HDB block in viral video (Photos: Victoria Loh/ladyv_victoria on TikTok)
Screen grab of 5 monkeys sliding down Jalan Besar HDB block in viral video (Photos: Victoria Loh/ladyv_victoria on TikTok)

SINGAPORE - Five long-tailed macaques were caught on video scaling down a HDB block in Jalan Besar on Saturday (19 August) afternoon.

The viral TikTok video, which has garnered two million views to date, showed the monkeys perching and walking along ledges of the block, before skilfully making their way down a pillar and leaping onto the roof on the first floor.

User Victoria Loh, who posted the video, told Yahoo Southeast Asia that the block was located in front of Exit B of Jalan Besar MRT Station.

She had joined a group of people that had gathered to take videos and photos of the monkeys. Passers-by were concerned if the monkeys could slide down safely, or would jump onto the crowd that ensued.

She later saw the monkeys jump onto the corridor. A crew member from an event happening under the block that day messaged her later on TikTok, to inform her that the monkeys were still around after she had left.

Loh was there to attend the birthday party of her friend's child. It was her first time seeing monkeys in a neighbourhood outside of parks.

Monkeys do not typically jump on or bite people

In response to Loh's concerns, primatologist Andie Ang shared that monkeys do not typically jump onto people. Such incidents usually occur in tourist sites in Malaysia and Indonesia, where monkeys are fed for photo opportunities.

Ang's only reference was when a jogger had run too closely to a mother monkey and its baby, resulting in an adult male monkey jumping aggressively out of protection.

She elaborated that it was also due to the site having accumulated many incidents of human and wildlife conflicts, which could have caused stress on the monkeys.

"When humans antagonise or taunt the monkeys, monkeys may react defensively by 'fake lunging' or baring their teeth, but they don’t actually lunge at people or jump at people," she said.

Past reports of monkeys biting people only typically occurred when people tried to take back food that was snatched away by monkeys.

Keep windows shut and food out of sight

Ang cautions that residents in the area may see other monkeys passing through in the near future.

She recommends residents to keep their windows shut, and to keep food out of sight or away from the kitchen if windows are left open, for the time being. Residents are also advised to store food in cabinets, and ensure window grills are locked.

Food stalls in the area are recommended to cover up food on display in the open, and ensure food is attended to by staff.

Monkey-proof bins and signages

In response to the incident, Ang recommends Jalan Besar Town Council to consider replacing open lid or open top trash bins to monkey-proof ones, especially at bus stops and public areas. Signages discouraging wildlife feeding should also be put up.

This is not the first time monkeys have been spotted in urban areas this year. A monkey was previously caught on camera stealing bread from a Kovan bakery, with another washing its hand at an outdoor basin in a residential area in Hougang.

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