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Gibbon attacks 2 children in Malaysia zoo escape

December 15, 2011
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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—A gibbon attacked two children, including one who was seriously injured, after escaping from an enclosure at a zoo in southern Malaysia, an official said Thursday.

The male siamang first bit a 5-year-old girl on her ankle Tuesday, Malacca Zoo director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said. Minutes later, the ape attacked a 3-year-old boy and ripped off part of his right thigh, he said.

The girl received outpatient treatment, but the boy, Muhammad Afiq Haziq, was hospitalized in serious condition, the zoo director said.

The siamang is a tailless, black-furred gibbon native to forests in Malaysia and Indonesia's Sumatra province.

The boy's mother, Anita Sulaiman, told The Star newspaper that her family was relaxing at an aviary park when they heard people screaming and saw the gibbon charging at visitors. She said the gibbon snatched her son from her husband's arms before biting off part of his thigh.

"I saw my husband grappling with the gibbon. A visitor came to his aid and hit the gibbon, forcing it to release the child," she told the newspaper. "He lost a lot of blood. I fear my son will be scarred and traumatized for life."

The report said the boy also suffered facial and bodily injuries. Hospital officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

The zoo director said the ape, about 5 to 10 years old, was swiftly recaptured and has been kept under quarantine. He said it was the first such attack at the zoo, and suspected it may have been caused by "provocation by irresponsible visitors."

Officials are investigating how the gibbon escaped from its enclosure and why it attacked the children, he said.

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