Monkey business: 90 children and staff evacuated after long-tailed macaque breaks in to Bukit Panjang childcare centre
They had just wrapped up a birthday party at the childcare centre in Bukit Panjang on Tuesday last week when the children and staff got an unexpected guest.
At about 4pm, a long-tailed macaque appeared by the window of a classroom at Ichiban Montessori Childcare Centre (Segar) on the ground level of Block 546A Segar Road.
Ms Alice Ow, 48, the centre's principal, said they tried to shoo it away, but after lingering outside for a while, the monkey moved into the classroom.
She told The New Paper: "My immediate thought was to make sure the children were safe, so I evacuated everyone... They were actually excited to see a real monkey."
Over 90 children and staff were evacuated according to the centre's usual fire drill procedures, and about 10 infants were carried into another room.
Ms Ow stayed behind with another teacher, contacted the authorities and managed to lure the macaque out of the classroom by throwing leftover cupcakes from the birthday party out of the window.
An accountant, who wanted to be known only as Ms Wen, told Shin Min Daily News there were six police officers at the scene.
A woman tried to chase the monkey away with a broomstick before the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) stepped in.
Acres deputy chief executive Anbarasi Boopal said its wildlife management team was already at the Segar Road area at around 2pm that day.
A resident at a nearby condominium had fed the macaque some apples and bananas, and Acres officers had to guide it out of the residential area.
It later moved to the estate near the childcare centre so the team went back at about 5pm.
Ms Boopal said the macaque was a transient individual moving between troops.
"They will use park connectors and adjacent residential areas because our green spaces, their habitats, are fragmented.
"Hence, it is important for residents not to feed them and secure food waste properly so they will keep moving and we can prevent conflicts," she told TNP.
Ms Ow said the incident was a good learning opportunity, and she got an National Parks Board official to give a talk to the children on Wednesday. The centre plans to install nets on the windows to prevent monkeys from breaking in again.
The Bukit Panjang area is no stranger to long-tailed macaques, and some encounters have not been as friendly.
In 2017, a female macaque, later named Sugar, attacked residents, including an elderly man who needed two surgical procedures after being bitten.
Ms Boopal said Sugar's behaviour was severely altered because of feeders. "It required rescue and rehabilitation, which could have been avoided."