By now, no one is likely to be unaffected by the unprecedented pandemic sweeping our globe as travel is restricted, events and festivals are cancelled, and supplies are hoarded and rationed.
But there’s one forgotten population who may bear the worst brunt of the pandemic panic, and the media has remained silent about their plight.
These poor souls have been abandoned to fight for their survival with no means of maintaining their previous way of life. And things are about to get worse.
They flock the streets, begging for someone to help them. Fights are breaking out and injuries and deaths are increasing.
This is but another tragic consequence of the Coronavirus outbreak — survival of the fittest in its most basic form as this population is left to their own devices to fight for life.
This now-isolated population is running out of food – and even more frightening, they’re running out of beer.
Once revered, now abandoned…
Thousands of residents of the city of Lopburi in Thailand are seeing an unprecedented drop in human contact, their once abundant supply chain of food and beverages coming to a near stop.
They’re starving, they’re angry, and gang warfare is becoming commonplace.
Yep, we’re talking about the thousands of street monkeys who have resided in the city for as long as anyone can remember.
These poor primates have been revered and adored, showered with food and drink provided by locals and fascinated tourists.
But now that humans are practicing social distancing and cancelling travel, the poor macaques are left to fend for themselves. And things are getting worse by the day.
Things have gotten so bad for the monkeys of Lopburi, that they’re beginning to fight to the death over the small amount of food they’re able to scrounge for on their own.
Forced to find fish and berries instead of their preferred stock of Doritos and Lays potato chips, they’re losing their monkey minds.
We all know that when it comes to survival, we’ll do just about anything. After a while, sanity becomes a thing of the past.
There has always been plenty to go around for the monkeys of Lopburi.
Established groups of monkeys in the temples and in the streets kept their distance, knowing they could keep the peace since they were provided with piles of fruits and vegetables from local markets and tourists’ backpacks.
They were a major attraction, as these “cute” little monkeys would eat from any hand offering them a treat. They’ve even become known to eagerly accept the last few swigs of a can of soda or a cold brewski.
And let’s face it, we’re all a little happier when there’s plenty of beer to go around.
But now, fear over contracting the virus have shuttered markets all over the city. Tourists are no longer flocking to the temples and ruins.
And as they’ve disappeared, the abandoned monkeys are finding themselves in the middle of a turf war of epic proportions.
The “Streets” and the “Temples” are encroaching on each other’s traditional territories in the search for supplies.
Armed to the teeth and claws, they’re facing off. Gang fights are nothing new here, but locals report that the fearless gangs are growing from groups of 5-10 leaders to groups of hundreds.
Summer – their most plentiful time – is coming. This year, the monkeys fear their territories will become a barren wasteland.
Worst of all, the people of Lopburi may be faced with a tough decision – cancelling the annual Monkey Buffet Festival.
It’s about to get bad up in here.
The monkeys of Lopburi and the city’s residents and tourists have lived in harmony for years, greeting each other on the streets like old friends.
And every year, they celebrate their prosperity and mutual partnership with dozens of festivals and events.
The locals look forward to the events each year and they believe that showering the monkeys with love brings them luck for the next year. They plan for months to set the scene for an epic monkey party.
They gather all over the city, performing traditional monkey-beckoning songs and dances to draw their furry friends to the table.
And what a bounty it is.
Red tablecloths are filled with traditional local treats from sticky rice to fruits and vegetables embedded in blocks of ice. Attention is paid to the mix of colors and patterns to make the buffet pleasing to the monkey guests.
The events not only bring the entire city out, but also draw more than 10,000 international tourists a year.
The food and alcohol flows, and it is all shared with the beloved macaques, each group knowing they are dependent on the other for prosperity.
People are not the only ones who look forward to the festivities. While the monkeys get plenty of scraps throughout the year, this festival is their time to shine.
And I have a feeling it’s gonna get ugly if this year’s party is cancelled.
A cautionary tale…
We have only to look to the monkeys of Lopburi to see something of ourselves.
This pandemic may bring out the good in humanity, but it’s also bringing out the worst.
Anarchy and chaos is already happening in this little part of the world… How long until we form our own gangs for that last pack of two-ply Charmin or a case of Purell?
The monkey’s plight is a cautionary tale to us all.
So while you’re quarantined at home, Door-dashing takeout and binging on Netflix – as you tuck your precious children into bed tonight – don’t forget the poor souls who are less fortunate…
…the hungry and sober monkeys of Lopburi.
They are the forgotten ones. Maybe their story will be a reality-check to the rest of us.
And if you find it in your heart to help, I hear they have a fondness for PBR and Budweiser. But no Corona. That’s just wrong.
Stay safe – and thirsty – out there, my friends.
If you want to read more on drunk monkey shenanigans, check out Proud American Traveler!