LOPBURI — Eyewitnesses on Thursday said a shortage of food offerings from tourists led to a brawl involving around a thousand monkeys in the historic city of Lopburi.
A sharp drop in tourism due to the coronavirus reportedly forced monkeys who inhabit Prang Sam Yod temple complex to forage farther from their turf, eventually escalating into an all-out street fight with another tribe of monkeys on Tuesday.
“It’s the summer so usually we see a lot of tourists, but now because of the outbreak there’s so few that the markets are very quiet. Not enough tourists come to leave food for the monkeys at Prang Sam Yod,” Sasaluk Rattanachai, who posted a video of the brawl online, said by phone Thursday evening.
The video has since been viewed almost half a million times. Sasaluk, a 28-year-old industrial paint saleswoman, said normally this time of year Lopburi city sees more tourists.
The fight pit the city monkeys who live around the Phra Kan Shrine and eat offerings people leave there against the “invading” group of monkeys that live around Prang Sam Yod temple complex.
As of Thursday morning, monkeys were seen foraging for food in the trash, but by afternoon residents had laid out additional food offerings for them at both temples.
Sasaluk said she did not witness any monkeys killed in the fight, which broke out at about 11am on Tuesday. Traffic was held up for around 10 minutes as monkeys from the two sides charged at each other.
“This area is the kingdom of the city monkeys,” Pattakorn Witchaplakorn, 52, a railway officer who takes care of the water trough for the town monkeys, said Thursday.
Byo Um-in, a 65-year-old motorcycle taxi driver familiar with the monkeys, said it was not like anything he’s seen before.
“I haven’t seen a fight like this for many years that I can’t remember. Normally, the fights involve five to 10 monkeys,” Byo said.
The street battle generated much interest among human observers on social media. Facebooker Chopper Tanagorn even did some post-battle news investigating of his own – by approaching the monkeys and asking them for their condition.
Residents often feed monkeys “human food” high in sugar and fat, which lead to obesity.
Monkeys forage for food in the garbage in Lopburi city on March 12, 2020.
Monkeys at Prang Sam Yod on March 12, 2020.