"Monkey Police" Officer Plays By His Own Rules

Santisuk, the monkey cop, is helping win hearts in Thailand. Photos: Reuters / Damir Sagolj

It may sound like a premise to some hotly anticipated buddy-film, but the story of how one pig-tailed macaque got a job working for the Thailand police is no work of fiction. The 5 year old monkey was discovered with a broken arm last year and nursed back to health at a local clinic. But when no one arrived to claim him, Thai police adopted him as one of their own and began enlisting his charm at roadside checkpoints to help ease tensions with the community.According to the Daily Mail, the macaque leads a fairly charmed life of greeting passing motorists and helping locals collect hard-to-reach coconuts. In fact, the first "Monkey Police" has become something of a celebrity among the region's predominantly Muslim community. Tensions have run high in the past, but the monkey, named Santisuk, is helping to change that, so says Police Corporal Yutthapol:

Other officers deal with annoyed drivers. With Santisuk the checkpoint is a happy place.

Locals, once annoyed with the police, now like to have their picture taken with the newest member of the force.

Some commentators have taken issue with how Santisuk is being treated, the chain around his neck seeming to indicate that the monkey might be under duress. But officials insist that the animal is well-treated, and is even rewarded with bottles of vitamin milk for his service. Santisuk's agreeable temperament would imply that he was raised in captivity and was likely abandoned by his owner.

Thailand has been the site of often violent clashes between separatists and the nation's Muslim and Buddhist communities, but with the success of Santisuk's ambassadorship, Thai officials are hoping to enlist more Monkey Police, reports The Nation. A desire to use more animals in this way, however, does raise concerns that monkeys will be exploited without the extenuating circumstances surrounding Santisuk's adoption.

While he may be cute in his little uniform, Santisuk knows how to bring order where necessary.

The positive influence of animals has been harnessed for years with dogs and cats employed to brighten the spirits of the sick or elderly. Still, Santisuk (whose name means 'peace' in Thai), may be a pioneer in that he has managed to alleviate some social tension in a region that is no stranger to turmoil--so it may be time to redefine the term 'monkey business'.

We can only hope that Thailand's popular simian police officer continues to be well treated by his cop buddies and the community he serves. After all, it'll be good to have Santisuk on the force in the event of some great banana heist--you know, when it gets personal.

More Monkeying Around
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Tags: Animals | Communities | Thailand

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