Tachtouch returns to Lebanon after monkeying around in Israel
Ape escape

Tachtouch returns to Lebanon after monkeying around in Israel

After his weeklong escapade in Jewish state, French nun who owns the vervet calls him a ‘peace messenger’ for crossing militarized border

The monkey Tachtouch in Al Qouzah, southern Lebanon, June 7, 2019. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT/AFP)
The monkey Tachtouch in Al Qouzah, southern Lebanon, June 7, 2019. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT/AFP)

AL QOUZAH, Lebanon — A Lebanese monkey who breached the border with Israel was returned to its owner Friday by United Nations peacekeepers after cavorting for more than a week in enemy territory.

Its owner, a French nun who describes herself as a “virgin hermit,” was quick to see the primate’s escapade across one of the world’s most tense borders as a message of peace.

Tachtouch escaped late last month, prompting its owner, Beatrice Mauger, who runs a peace project in southern Lebanon, to launch an appeal on Facebook.

“Please Tachtouch come back to Ark of Peace!” she wrote on June 1, with a promise that the village children would hand out bananas as a reward.

But Tachtouch was far away, having slipped across the militarized frontier into Israel.

The monkey was spotted in multiple locations but evaded capture for more than a week.

“We have captured the Lebanese monkey in good health,” the Yodfat Monkey Forest in northern Israel said on Facebook late Thursday.

The capture took five days of stalking by three women with “determination, love and faith,” the post said, including a video of the three sitting with the monkey in a cage in the boot of a car.

“He took the drama out of the border by ignoring the wall and the barbed wire,” Sister Beatrice told AFP Friday on a phone messaging application after being reunited with Tachtouch.

“This vervet is a peace messenger,” she said, referring to the type of monkey Tachtouch is.

The monkey Tachtouch is being fed by its French owner Beatrice Mauger in Al Qouzah, southern Lebanon on June 7, 2019. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT/AFP)

“Peace to all of Tachtouch’s fans who helped him to cross a sealed border, a prophetic sign of the reopening of the Israeli-Lebanese border,” she added.

The return voyage across the fortified border had to be undertaken with help from the UN’s peacekeeping force UNIFIL.

An Israeli army spokesman told AFP earlier in the day the monkey was “handed over to United Nations forces to be returned to its owners in Lebanon.”

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