Children evacuated after monkey gatecrashes birthday party at Bukit Panjang childcare

The principal later lured it out of the classroom with cupcakes.

Sumita Thiagarajan| January 20, 06:24 PM

Children at Ichiban Montessori Childcare Centre (Segar) got a surprise visit from a long-tailed macaque during a birthday party celebration on Jan. 14, 2020.

Over 90 children and staff evacuated from the childcare centre

According to The New Paper (TNP), the primate showed up at the centre around 4pm.

The male macaque hung out at the window of the childcare centre before making its way into the classroom.

The principal of the childcare centre, Alice Ow, told TNP that the staff evacuated the children for safety reasons, according to the centre's fire drill procedures.

About 90 children and staff were evacuated, while 10 infants were moved to another room.

According to the principal, the children were excited to see a monkey.

Staff lured macaque out of the classroom with cupcakes

After contacting the relevant authorities, Ow and another teacher threw leftover cupcakes from the birthday party out of the window and successfully lured the macaque out of the childcare centre.

After the incident, Ow took the opportunity to help the children learn about macaques and invited a National Parks Board official to talk to the children on the day after the incident.

To prevent future surprise visits from the macaques, the childcare centre aims to install nets on the windows.

Fed by a condo resident

ACRES revealed that their wildlife management team was at Segar Road earlier that afternoon to attend to another case, where a condo resident had fed the macaque some bananas and apples.

After the macaque was shepherded out of the nearby condominium, it moved towards the estate near the childcare centre, where it eventually made a surprise visit to the childcare centre.

screenshot of macaque at segar Screenshot by ACRES

Male macaques have different social ranks in their troops and choose to migrate from one troop to another troop when their rank in the first troop is low.

Our green spaces provide refuge for these individuals

ACRES deputy chief executive Anbarasi Boopal told Mothership that lone individuals moving from one troop to another will "use park connectors and adjacent residential areas because our green spaces, their habitats, are fragmented".

Due to the proximity to the Central Catchment Park Connector and Upper Seletar Reservoir and increased development of nearby green spaces, this is not the first time wild animals have been encountered in the area.

Photo of Segar Road Photo from Google Maps

Last year, a lone wild boar was spotted walking along Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre, which made residents wonder if these animals were losing their natural habitat.

In 2017, a macaque was caught in Segar was rehabilitated by ACRES, as its behaviour was altered due to human interaction and feeding by residents.

Boopal told TNP that "it is important for residents not to feed them and secure food waste properly so they will keep moving and we can prevent conflicts".

Encountering a wild macaque

According to NParks, here's what you can do if you come face-to-face with a wild macaque in your home or an enclosed space:

  • Stop whatever you are doing immediately.
  • Remain calm and quiet. Do not make sudden movements and do not maintain direct eye contact with the monkeys.
  • Look for an exit for the monkeys.
  • Without cornering the monkeys, keep hitting the ground with a stick OR direct a strong jet of water at the monkeys to lead them towards the exit.
  • Alternatively, move to a safe place and wait for the monkeys to leave.
  • Do not try to hit the monkeys.
  • If you have a child with you, put him/her on your shoulders. This will increase your perceived size, which could deter the monkeys from approaching you and your child.

To find out more on what to do if you encounter a wild monkey, you can visit NParks' website here.

Top photo by ACRES