Monkeys swarm cake at annual monkey feast

Carrie McLaren carrie at stayfreemagazine.org
Tue Dec 4 12:32:32 EST 2001


AP Worldstream
November 25, 2001 Sunday

HEADLINE: Monkeys treated to cake at annual monkey feast

BYLINE: DAVID LONGSTREATH; Associated Press Writer

DATELINE: LOPBURI, Thailand

BODY:

A brigade of naughty, greedy monkeys descended from rooftops and 
temple walls to devour a special cake and other goodies at the annual 
monkey feast Sunday.

Terrorist attacks have put a brake on tourism in Thailand, but one 
wouldn't have guessed that in this central Thailand town as more than 
1,000 foreign and domestic visitors watched the simian antics.

The event has been hosted since 1989 by local businessman and "Monkey 
King" Yongyuth Kitwatananuson, who believes the monkeys that have 
traditionally roamed Lopburi were behind his family's good fortune. 
So each year is payback time. For the first time, he offered some 500 
long-tailed macaques a huge, layered and frosted cake along with 
mounds of watermelon, pineapples, vegetables, Thai sweets and soft 
drinks neatly laid out on tables.
Visitors from distant places shared in the mirth.

"We don't have anything like this in Finland, except at the zoo," 
said Eero Rautamaki of Helsinki. Arriving with a group of tourists in 
a bus, Rautamaki said it felt "like we were in the cage and they were 
watching us."

Lopburi's monkeys are given free rein, often to the annoyance of 
local vendors and residents as the brazen animals dart out of hiding 
places to snatch food and handbags.

The monkeys enjoy a religious connection in Lopburi, 112 kilometers 
(70 miles) north of Bangkok. They are regarded as disciples of Chao 
Pho Prakarn, a four-armed deity whose likeness is enshrined in the 
heart of the town.

On Sunday, security guards armed with slingshots kept the monkeys at 
bay until after the official opening ceremony. Then the macaques 
charged down from the walls of an ancient Buddhist temple and other 
perches to snatch the food.

In years past, the monkeys have been served American fried rice, 
special Chinese noodles, tomato soup, chicken eggs and banana bread.

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