March 20, 2020 / 8:33 AM / 11 days ago

Brawling monkeys fed by Thai villagers as tourism dries up

Monkeys are seen in front of a shop near Prang Sam Yod temple, following significant impact on tourism after the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread, in Lopburi, Thailand, March 17, 2020. Picture taken March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

LOPBURI, Thailand (Reuters) - A mass brawl between two troupes of monkeys in Thailand’s Lopburi province, captured on a video clip that went viral online last week, sparked concerns that the animals might be starving as coronavirus pandemic was keeping tourists away.

But people in the province insisted the monkeys would not go hungry, and that officials and residents were giving them leftover food and vegetables.

“The monkeys are not starving because officials are taking care of them. In the morning, they will give the monkeys vegetables from the market,” Pakawan Koontawee told Reuters.

The 41-year-old food vendor said her own business was suffering as a result of the lost tourist trade.

“The monkeys aren’t starving, but we are,” she said.

Reporting by Soe Zeya Tun, writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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