An abandoned pup which appeared to have been adopted by a Formosan macaque in Chiayi County was found dead several days after local residents attempted to stop animal rescue workers from separating the unlikely pair.
The male Formosan macaque had been resident in the vicinity of Dongshi Bridge in Dongshi Township for more than a year. As the coastal township is outside the natural range of macaques, and the normally social animal lived alone, animal welfare workers suspect that the monkey was an abandoned pet.
Last Wednesday, December 21, local residents noticed the monkey hugging a black puppy, and carrying it around as it climbed trees. The villagers thought the monkey and pup made a cute, if not odd couple. When animal rescue staff turned up to try to capture the monkey and rescue the pup, the residents berated them, insisting that the monkey fed, groomed, and cared for the pup as if it were its own child.
Animal experts pointed out that it was not possible for a Formosan macaque to feed and care for a canine pup. The male macaque does not secrete milk, and the natural diet of the macaque is mainly fruit.
Animal rescue workers spent several days attempting to trap the monkey, even resorting to bringing a female macaque in an attempt to seduce the lone male.
However, on Monday, December 26, members of a municipal cleaning crew spotted the pup dangling in the branches of a tree, obviously dead.
The Chiayi County Livestock Disease Control Center conducted an autopsy on the pup, and concluded that the animal had died of starvation, a severed spine, and other severe injuries.
The director of the Livestock Disease Control Center, Lin Pei-ru, said the idea that the monkey was taking care of the pup as its own child was nothing but a fantasy. When they received the pup’s body, it had been stretched out with the neck obviously extended, and the spine snapped. The belly had been cut open, and the stomach was severely atrophied as the dog had not eaten for a long time.
Lin did not blame the macaque, but condemned the people who had cruelly abandoned both the monkey and the pup.
Such stories can provide opportunities for cute pictures and light hearted stories in the media. In 2016, India Times ran a story with the headline “Monkey Adopts A Puppy And Takes Better Care Of It Than Most Humans Would.”
“This is a classic tale of puppy love,” the journalist reported.
“This is such an extraordinary tale of love that we a constantly reminded how animals are better teachers of all-embracing compassion.”
Animals good: humans bad. The story came replete with a picture of the rhesus macaque kindly stuffing a bunch of grapes into the puppies face, and leaping from branch to branch high in the treetops while holding the puppy in one arm.
But there was no follow-up story: no tale of a dog that is able to leap between tall trees like a canine version of Tarzan.
Because tales of monkeys taking the young of other animals as pets rarely, if ever, have a happy ending.
In September 2017, Taiwan English News reported on piglets being taken as playthings by Formosan macaques in Yunlin County. The piglet featured in that story also died.
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