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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monkey business at Lopburi bhuddist Temple, Thailand

Thailand is a beautiful place to visit, full of wonderful old temples and rich in history. Thai people though are very poor, and money gleaned from tourism makes up a big part of their income. Sometimes the wildlife also attracts tourists, and in one particular place, the locals like to demonstrate how much this means to them.

Every year since 1989, around about the end of November, hundreds of long-tailed macaque monkeys have descended on the Pra Prang Sam Yot Buddhist temple of Lopburi, Thailand. This is because they know that they have an open invitation to eat fruits and vegetables during an annual feast held in honor of Rama, a hero of the Ramayana, who, it is said, rewarded his friend and ally, Hanuman the Monkey King, with the fiefdom of what is now Lopburi.

Organizers of the annual monkey buffet use more than 3,000 kg of fruits and vegetables for the festival. One American visitor reportedly said, “It’s really cool. It is a different thing than anything we have in America. Monkeys just fly everywhere, stealing food. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

These mischievous, long-tailed monkeys are the main attraction for the area and are given free reign to scale buildings and people, snatch glasses off faces and steal wallets out of bags. They may be cute but they’re also nimble. That being said, long-tailed macaques are nutritionally adventuresome and opportunistic, and their annual buffet has, in the past, included grilled sausages, jelly and Coca-Cola.

Few people ever get, in reality, genuine opportunities to interact with wildlife as closely related to ourselves as the monkeys are, so attending this annual party must be something very special for those lucky enough to get to it. Every picture tells a story, they say, and this is a really appealing one.



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