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For London Zoo Patrons, It's A Case Of Once Bitten, Twice Shy

A "walk-through" enclosure at the London Zoo apparently allows visitors to get a little too close to resident squirrel monkeys and several people have the bite marks to prove it, according to details of a report published in a U.K. newspaper.

The Camden New Journal says 15 people suffered bites from the black-and-tan monkeys over a 12-month period last year.

The Journal quotes from the report, saying that although it's been eight years since the "revolutionary" up close and personal squirrel monkey exhibit was launched, the nervous primates are still working out some "behavioural issues."

"These involve mainly grabbing of food from members of the public. There have been 15 bites over the past year, none serious, all reported to first aid."

...

"There is now a no pushchair [baby stroller] policy in the enclosure as they were a major target for the monkeys looking for food. Negative re-enforcement is implemented mainly by painting a bitter apple substance on objects of desire such as mobile phones used by volunteers."

A spokeswoman for the Zoological Society of London, or ZSL, told the newspaper that the biting episodes were no more than an occasional "small nip on a visitor's hand.

"Squirrel monkeys are naturally curious and our family of cheeky Bolivian squirrel monkeys is no exception," she said, adding that volunteers walk through the exhibit warning visitors not to get too close.

Among other things in the report, which the Journal says it obtained following a Freedom of Information request, are details of how the zoo might deal with an escaped tiger:

"The decision as to who would be responsible for shooting the tiger outside the ZSL grounds has not been finalized."

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