The joyful chaos of Thailand's annual Monkey Buffet Festival

Hat-stealing, hair-chewing and other monkey business: The joyful chaos of Thailand’s annual feast for 1,000 hungry macaques

  • Lopburi in central Thailand has been hosting its annual Monkey Buffet Festival since the late 1980s
  • As part of the festival, the town piles tables with up to two tonnes of fruit and veg for the monkeys to enjoy 
  • The monkeys have a special taste for durian, a pungent tropical fruit, according to organisers

Their table manners were shocking, but the guests of honour at a special banquet in the Thai town of Lopburi, recently loved monkeying around.

Lopburi has been laying on an annual feast of fruit for its population of macaques since the late 1980s, part religious tradition and part tourist attraction.

This year’s Monkey Buffet Festival saw around 1,000 hungry simians descend on tables and wheelchairs piled high with fruit outside the town’s 800-year-old Pra Prang Sam Yod temple.

In this picture macaques feast on a heap of fresh fruit and vegetables against a backdrop of the 800-year-old Pra Prang Sam Yod temple

Organiser Yongyuth Kitwatananusont said the monkeys have a special taste for durian, the pungent love-it-or-hate-it tropical fruit popular across Southeast Asia

There has always been tremendous respect for monkeys in Thailand. The animals appear in the ancient tale of Rama, who couldn’t have rescued his wife Sita from the clutches of a demon lord without the help of the monkey king Hanuman and his army

Organiser Yongyuth Kitwatananusont said the monkeys have a special taste for durian, the pungent love-it-or-hate-it tropical fruit popular across Southeast Asia.

Covid restrictions meant last year’s party was missing its usual crowd of spectators, but this year the humans were back in force, with more than 100 turning out to see the furry fruit fanatics.

And the cheeky monkeys were keen to renew their acquaintance with their distant cousins, clambering over onlookers, stealing hats, chewing long hair and giving the occasional bite.

It’s thought that as much as two tonnes of food is consumed by the monkeys at The Monkey Buffet Festival every year

More than 1,000 hungry simians showed up for the 2021 Monkey Buffet Festival in the Thai town of Lopburi, 150 kilometres (93 miles) north of Bangkok

During the Monkey Buffet Festival macaques can be seen quenching their thirst by guzzling from bottles of mineral water and juice

Covid restrictions meant that the 2020 Monkey Buffet Festival was missing its usual crowd of spectators, but this year the humans were back in force, with more than 100 turning out to see the furry fruit fanatics

There has always been a tremendous respect for monkeys in Thailand. The animals appear in the ancient tale of Rama, who couldn’t have rescued his wife Sita from the clutches of a demon lord without the help of the monkey king Hanuman and his army. 

Today, many Thai people see monkeys as an emblem of good luck and prosperity. 

Traditionally, the Monkey Buffet Festival begins with an opening ceremony in which humans dress up in monkey costumes and perform dances. 

The macaques of Lopburi are not scared of humans. During this year’s Monkey Buffet Festival, the monkeys were seen clambering over onlookers, like the photographer pictured above

In this image a group of adult monkeys and their babies are pictured waiting for their turn to get stuck into the fruit and veg on offer during the Monkey Buffet

Lopburi has been laying on its annual feast of fruit for its population of macaques since the late 1980s

Then the food offerings are unveiled and the monkeys get stuck into everything from lettuce leaves and chunks of pineapple to watermelon.

This year, some monkeys were even pictured drinking from bottles of mineral water and juice. 

It’s thought that as much as two tonnes of food is consumed by the monkeys at The Monkey Buffet Festival every year.

Monkeys are seen as emblems of good luck and prosperity in the town of Lopburi

The monkeys get stuck into everything from lettuce leaves and cucumbers to chunks of pineapple, slices of watermelon and bananas during the Monkey Buffet Festival

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