Old man's plea over monkey rejected

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 June, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 June, 2000, 12:00am

Officials yesterday rejected a request by 'monkey man' Chan Yat-biu for the return of his pet primate, confiscated last month because he did not have a licence.

Accompanied by son Chan Yiu-wing, Mr Chan, 90, and Democrat legislator Law Chi-kwong went to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department's Cheung Sha Wan office yesterday morning to seek a licence. They presented an 11,000-name petition in support of the claim.

However, officials said a licence could only be issued if there was proof the animal, Kam Ying, had been obtained legally.

The younger Mr Chan said he was disappointed and worried about his father. 'My father is getting thinner and thinner. He also can't sleep much.' Officials also revealed that the monkey's tail had been cut off before they seized it. They said the act could be construed as cruelty.

Monkeys' tails are often cut off by people in the animal trade who believe it makes them easier to train. Wong Che-lok, the department's monkey expert, said the cut must have caused great pain. The younger Mr Chan said the tail was missing when the monkey was given to his father.

Department officials said staff were angry they had been referred to by talk show host Albert Cheng King-hon, who supports Mr Chan, as members of the 'animals department'. One officer said: 'His remark is insulting to all our 2,000 staff. Even our children ask us why we are working in an animals department. Many of us are very unhappy.' The department said the monkey would be kept in the Sheung Shui Animals Management Centre until it was mature enough to go to a nature-like zoo, a process that could take years.