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Hunt for Scotland's escaped monkey takes fresh twist as thermal imaging drones are brought in

The hunt for a monkey which escaped from a Scottish wildlife park two days ago took a fresh twist on Tuesday morning as a fresh sighting was reported.

Thermal imaging drones are being used in the hunt for the Japanese macaque which found a way out of its enclosure at Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie on Sunday.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) said keepers are responding to a sighting of the monkey in the area on Tuesday morning.

People in the area are being urged to bring in any food that is stored outside to encourage the monkey to return to the park when it is hungry, and have been advised not to approach the animal.

Keith Gilchrist, living collections operations manager at the wildlife park, said: “There has been a sighting of the macaque this morning, which we are currently responding to.

“Throughout the day our expert team of animal keepers will be patrolling the local area using a variety of techniques to try and coax him in, as well as using our thermal image drone contractor to aid with the search.

“Cairngorms Mountain Rescue has also kindly offered to support with their thermal imaging drone.

“As with yesterday, we’re asking locals to please bring any obvious potential food sources like bird feeders or food waste inside, as we’re hopeful that the monkey will return to the park if he can’t find food elsewhere.

“Although the macaque is not presumed dangerous to humans or pets, our advice is to not approach him but to contact our hotline on 07933 928 377 with any sightings.”

The wildlife park houses a large group of Japanese macaques after successfully breeding the species.

The Japanese macaque, also known as the snow monkey, is the most northerly living non-human primate, according to the RZSS.

One couple who saw the monkey in their back garden at the weekend described the experience as “so surreal”.

Carl Nagle, 49, and his partner Tiina Salzberg, 50, saw the monkey from their patio doors in Kincraig near Kingussie on Sunday morning.

It nibbled on the nuts in their bird feeder and perched on their garden fence for around 15 minutes before running away.

Ms Salzberg, a chief strategy officer for a marketing consultancy company, told the PA news agency: “We were watching in awe as it’s so displaced to see a Japanese snow monkey in your garden in a village in the middle of nowhere.

“It was absolutely wild, we were both elbowing each other trying to get the other one out of the way so we could get the best video and camera angles.

“It was incredible, I’m sure once in a lifetime.”

Mr Nagle said: “It’s just the most surreal thing, I’ve seen snow monkeys in the wild but you don’t expect to see them in your back garden in the Highlands.”