Eleven years ago, on May 1, 2001, the Indian media first published stories of their “Monkey Man Alert,” about the sightings of hairy, 4- to 5-foot-tall ape-like creatures, and immediately, widespread concern began. Here’s a summary of the incidents that lead to the “Alert” and beyond.
For a two-week period during May, the so-called “Monkey Man” panic swept throughout India, mostly centered in the township of Ghaziabad, 22 miles north of New Delhi. The attacks of this giant monkey lead to a major media event, which swept from India through the entire English-speaking world. Over one hundred different articles about the phenomena were published during the peak of the activity. More than a dozen people were hospitalized with fractures and severe injuries as a result of the attacks that occurred since April 28, many of them from falls while running away.
In early April, the creature was confined to Vijay Nagar when it started biting sleeping persons. It was then rumored to be a giant rogue monkey. These first witnesses said that they were attacked by a very tall monkey-like creature without a tail. The height of this creature was around 5 feet and it was hairy with large claws. People said that this creature attacked them without any provocation at all. The creature scratched the hands and neck of people mostly asleep late at night.
One witness, Ganesh Jha, of the Maharana Vihar Residents’ Association, claimed he came face to face with the “huge man-monkey” and saw him jump 20 feet (six meters) in the air. “We were taking an evening walk when we walked into this huge man-monkey. The monster sprang up 20 feet from a crouching position and grabbed the branches of a tree and vanished before me and my children could even scream,” Jha told reporters.
From this small village the creature seems to have traveled to neighboring areas of the town of Ghaziabad. As more people grew aware of the sightings, hoaxes and exaggerations occurred. The original very tall monkey-like creature became a half-human with elephant like legs, reddish hands and metallic claws. Later, victims said it was a man with a monkey face, which soon became a masked man.
Although the Ghaziabad Police claimed that there was nothing like a Monkey Man, complaints of sightings, scuffles and looting by the Monkey Man poured into police stations. At least two people died from falls from buildings (scared while sleeping on roofs) and over fifty people were injured.
Finally, on May 16th, the Indian Police in New Delphi, showing two different versions of the Monkey Man, issued a computer-generated sketch (see above). Police said at the time they were no closer to solving the mystery of an ape-like creature, and then finally ended all interest in the reports, saying it was mass hysteria. While the “Monkey Man Alert” resulted in panics more related to human psychology, some cryptozoologists feel that the initial sightings of the case, the first reported encounters with a large primate, may have had a zoological basis.