Starving monkey ‘gangs’ brawl in Thailand as coronavirus keeps tourists away

Click to play video: 'Hundreads of starving monkeys fight over food in Thailand'
Hundreads of starving monkeys fight over food in Thailand
WATCH: Hundreds of starving wild monkeys scrambled for a single piece of food in Lopburi, Thailand. The primates are normally well fed by tourists, but visitors have plummeted because of the global COVID-19 outbreak – Mar 17, 2020

Monkey “gangs” have taken to the streets of Thailand to brawl over food as the novel coronavirus has kept tourism at bay.

Shocking video footage shared to Facebook show swaths of the animals taking to the streets to find something to eat, likely going hungry as tourists aren’t there to keep them well-fed.

“It’s the summer, so usually we see a lot of tourists, but because of the outbreak, there’s so few that the markets are very quiet,” Sasaluk Rattanachai, who posted the video online, told Thai news site Khaosod English.

The street fight broke out on Tuesday at around 11 a.m. in Lopburi, Rattanachai added, which held up traffic for around 10 minutes. The area is located just northeast of Bangkok and is famed for its monkey population.

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“This area is the kingdom of the city monkeys,” Pattakorn Witchaplakorn, a railway officer, told the local publication.

The area of Lopburi is home to thousands of crab-eating macaques, a type of monkey, near the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple.

Click to play video: 'Animal experts say stopping future outbreak starts with origins'
Animal experts say stopping future outbreak starts with origins

The monkeys are used to being fed by tourists, LiveScience reports. The city hosts an annual Monkey Buffet Festival, where visitors build huge towers of fruits and vegetables just for the animals.

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Each “gang” has around 500 members, Manad Vimuktipune of the Lopburi Monkey Foundation told The Guardian, adding that they’ll steal anything from colourful ornaments to caps and sunglasses.

Earlier this week, authorities said the country is likely to see a fall to 30 million foreign tourists from last year’s 39.8 million, the Bangkok Post says. It’s unclear what long-term impact the tourism decline will have on the monkeys.

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