5 youths ordered to apologize to monkeys, clean pen for throwing fireworks

Five youths have apologized to the director of Kyoto Zoo after admitting to breaking into the premises early one morning in January and throwing fireworks at the zoo’s monkeys.

As part of their punishment, the five were ordered to apologize to the monkeys and clean their enclosure, according to a Fuji TV report.

Police say the group, all 18 years of age, consisted of high school students, construction workers and beauticians. According to police, the group had been drinking alcohol before they illegally entered the zoo on Jan 3 and threw lit fireworks into the monkey enclosure, Fuji reported.

CCTV camera footage showed them entering the zoo by scaling a wall at around 6:20 a.m. They then proceeded to terrorize the 26 monkeys for around 15 minutes. Zoo keepers reported that one animal sustained a burn to its face.

After police made the video footage public, the youths turned themselves in, Fuji reported. Police said they will likely press charges for breach of property damage and animal cruelty laws.

At the time of the incident, the director of Kyoto Zoo, Toshikuni Nihonmatsu, said the zoo discourages visitors from throwing anything into the enclosure, even food, due to the danger that the animals will lose trust in people, Fuji reported. “What was done to the monkeys was incredibly cruel,” he said.

The accused were taken to Kyoto Zoo on Feb 10, where they bowed and apologized to zoo staff, including Nihonmatsu. They were then told to bow and apologize to the monkeys, Fuji reported. They also cleaned the monkeys’ enclosure for around an hour as punishment.

Nihonmatsu told the group that he wanted them to understand how the monkeys must have felt and reflect on what they had done. He added that he wanted them to go on and be productive members of society, Fuji TV reported.