The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Intruder makes monkey of airport
- Delhi international terminal is driven up the wall by an unusual visitor

New Delhi, Sept. 17: Dunstan has checked in, finally making it from hotel to airport.

Security was tight at Delhi airport for P. Chidambaram’s departure yesterday afternoon but nobody had noticed the hole in the ceiling, left behind by recent construction.

The monkey that jumped in was still holding the international departure terminal to ransom tonight, a day and a half after it sneaked in.

“It came down from the roof just before the minister arrived,” an airport official said. “We spotted it in the security hold area.”

If the finance minister was told about it, he must have thought it a jinx. Ambika Soni, her department caught in a row over the “Ram setu” affidavit, has already realised what monkeys can do to a Union minister.

Chidambaram, however, was led away through another gate and safely boarded his flight to Europe. The monkey has stayed put, outwitting security and even professional rescue workers from Wildlife SOS.

“Seeing so many people, it got scared and went up again,” the official said. The passengers, no less scared, are being directed to another gate and a part of the terminal has been sealed.

The scenes haven’t quite paralleled the movie Dunstan Checks In, where a chimpanzee spreads bedlam across a hotel, mainly because the monkey has mostly kept to the space between the roof and the false ceiling. It scampers overhead, where it has free run of a 15,000sqft area, while rescuers and vets from the Delhi zoo wait below with stun guns.

From time to time, the animal comes down for a brief while and then jumps back to its hideout.

With the Supreme Court having issued guidelines for humane treatment of monkeys, airport officials are forced to be “sensitive”.

“We have to stick to the law. We can’t just shoot the monkey with a stun gun while it runs about. It may lose an eye, for instance,” an official said.

To bait the animal, officials have strewn the floor with fruits but it has refused to be tempted.

“It must be hungry and cold unless it has found a source of food somewhere,” an official said. “As a last resort, we are considering if a part of the ceiling can be broken down to restrict its movements.”

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