I thought my highly intellectual readership would be stimulated by this story I saw this morning:

Monkey eludes dragnet at Tokyo train station

DSC00136Morning train commuters in Tokyo were joined on their way to work by an unusual companion Wednesday: a wild monkey.

A security guard spotted the monkey near ticket gates in Shibuya Station, said Norihiru Masui, a spokesman for train operator Tokyu Corp.

The monkey climbed to a perch high atop a departure board, and around 30 policemen surrounded the area and attempted to snare it with a variety of nets, as commuters crowded around and snapped pictures with their cell phones.

The standoff ended when the monkey climbed down and dashed out of the station, with several policeman and local TV crews in tow. News reports said the monkey was last seen heading in the direction of nearby Yoyogi Park.

The animal appeared to be a Japanese monkey, which are native to the country, and was about 27 inches (70 centimeters) long from head to the tip of the tail. No one was injured and no trains were delayed in the incident.

Japanese media have reported several monkey sightings in Tokyo recently, but it was unclear if they involved the same animal.

Monkeys have long made appearances in rural parts of Japan, where they have been known to damage crops, swipe food from grocery stalls and even bite humans. In recent years, growth in the monkey population has meant more frequent forays out of the forests and into farms and towns.

Obviously, the monkey was just trying to get to work via the commuter train.  That's what they do in New York, isn't it?  Here are my thoughts on this Japanese national crisis:

  • Would the police have been more lenient if the monkey had bought a ticket?
  • yogi_and_booboo_tnI thought only bears lived in Yoyogi park.
  • When is Greta Van Susteren going to pick this up?  That's the American press for you.  They spend months covering nothing but OJ Simpson, Natalee Holloway, or Paris Hilton, but does the Japanese monkey crisis get any press at all?  No way.  Small wonder everyone hates us.
  • Why was it surprising that it was a Japanese monkey in the Tokyo train station?  Did they expect a Hungarian monkey?  Why didn't they report that the commuters were Japanese people?

Astute readers (with very little better to do) will recall a series of posts I did way back about a similar international crises (also not covered by Greta):

Japanese Bomb Squad Finds Suspicious Beer

"TOKYO - Police discovered a suspicious package at a police station in southern Japan Friday, prompting them to evacuate the surrounding area and dispatch a bomb disposal team — which used its expertise to identify the parcel as a box filled with cans of beer.

The mysterious package was found at a station in Iizuka city in Fukuoka prefecture (state), prefectural police spokesman Yoichi Oyama said.

Police became alarmed around 1:50 p.m. when they noticed a suspicious box wrapped in newspaper that had been left inside a local police station. There was no indication that the package had been delivered in the mail, Oyama said.

Five families who live near station were evacuated, and roads in the area were also closed, Oyama said.

The bomb disposal team gingerly opened the box and found cans of beer inside, said Kazuo Hirashima, another police spokesman.

The box contained no explosives, he said, adding that the police immediately lifted the evacuation order and reopened the roads.

Before sending in the bomb squad, Oyama said there was a possibility that the parcel may be a gift for the police officers.

'That's probably what happened,' Hirashima said."


and of course:

Alcoholic monkey drinks 3-4 beers per day

Jun. 12 - A beer-loving monkey is among the first to make a beeline for the local liquor shop, so that she can lay her hands on her fix for the day.


What started as a fun drive by some of the truck drivers who made her drink from their leftover bottles for a small kick, has turned into an addiction for this 34 year old primate.

She arrives at the shop on the outskirts of the North Indian city of Kanpur, a tad before its opening, eagerly looking forward to a pint or two from the owner or from any of the amused customers.

If neither obliges, then she coolly gets into the shop and picks a brand of her choice before walking off, without bothering anyone.

Most of the customers vouch for her serene behaviour, saying she seldom misbehaves, even when denied a beer.

SOUNDBITE, Rajesh Singh Chouhan, Owner of the beer shop saying:
"It is a pet. Earlier the drivers visiting the shop used to give beer just for some lighthearted fun but slowly the monkey got addicted to it. She has been drinking beer for the last 20 years. She drinks at least 2-3 bottles everyday. She is roughly 34-year-old and drinks only beer."

(It is real: link - there is even video of this monkey on the web)

pic_greta_van_susteren So what's the point?  You have to see the sinister connection between the Japanese police, Monkeys, and Beer.  All evidence points to the fact that the monkey in the train station was, in fact, looking for the beer he set down at the police station.  Isn't that obvious?

Where's Greta when you need her?  Where is Tara Parker-Pope??

More to the point is how this relates to the deterioration of relations between doctors and patients.  It underlines several important messages:

  • Patients should never bring monkeys to the office.  I don't know how many times I have had to turn patients away from the office because they had a gibbon in tow.  Really folks, leave them home (and lock the liquor closet).
  • Doctors need to keep eyes open for more monkey-related medical conditions.  This explains many mysterious injuries I have been seeing lately.  It also explains why I can never find my car keys.
  • Insurance companies should start paying for monkey rehab.  This sad trend needs to be stopped.  It is an international travesty that monkeys are largely ignored when it comes to addictions.  AA and the Betty Ford clinic needs to step up to the plate.  Perhaps insurance companies could then employ the monkeys to help in the pre-authorization process.  Perhaps they already do.
  • Doctors should better relate to the monkey-related anxiety that most patients have.  It is bad enough to face the possibilities of cancer, heart disease, and pink eye; but awakening every day with fear of monkey attacks is something that takes a great toll.  I don't think most doctors take this into account.
  • Don't lecture obese monkeys.  They may bite you.
  • Monkeys are like barbers in many ways. 
  • Obama and McCain should address the issue publicly.  Ignoring the problem despite the overwhelming scientific evidence will only leave this as a legacy for our children to have to deal with.

I know what you are all thinking: But Dr. Rob, what can I do to stop the alcoholic monkey problem as it relates to the Japanese police and train stations?  The answer is obvious: spread the word.  Blog about it, tell your friends and family, Twitter it, text it, and shout it from the rooftops. 

Oh yes, and someone needs to get Greta on this story.