by Rahul Bedi
South China Morning Post
April 2, 1994

NEW DELHI: A male monkey, christened Romeo because of his fondness for female nurses and patients, has struck terror into a north Indian hospital.

Victims of Romeo’s “passionate” attacks at SMGS hospital in Jammu say he makes his advances only when he sees a lone female.

When rebuffed, Romeo becomes enraged and bites his victims, who then need rabies vaccinations.

Among Romeo’s recent victims was a 10-year-old girl visiting the hospital, but he seems to prefer the nurses. He has bitten at least six over the past three months, waiting patiently for them in dark corridors before attacking.

Hospital security staff have tried to trap the monkey, who lives somewhere on the sprawling hospital campus, by offering him bananas laced with sedatives.

Romeo, however, has outwitted them so far, eating the “loaded” bananas and making off to his secret lair to sleep them off.

Hospital staff say they cannot shoot or kill Romeo because of the strong religious sentiments aroused whenever any serious plans are afoot to eliminate him.

Hindus associate monkeys with Hanuman, the mythical monkey god, among the most revered of Hindu gods. Hanuman is worshipped in thousands of temples dedicated to him across India, and his spirit is believed to live inside all monkeys.

Patients consider it propitious to feed a monkey, hoping Hanuman will hasten recovery. Even the suggestion of killing one fills them with dread.

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