Watch: Coronavirus Prompts ‘Rival Gangs’ of Monkeys to Fight for Limited Tourist Food in Thailand

Hundreds of hungry monkeys were filmed fighting over one single banana in Thailand after the Chinese coronavirus pandemic caused a massive drop in the number of tourists who normally feed them.

The monkeys are usually well fed by tourists in the city of Lopburi, central Thailand, but the number of visitors in recent weeks has plummeted as a result of the coronavirus epidemic gripping Asia and the rest of the world.

Footage from the incident appears to show hundreds of monkeys swarming in a road to target a single primate who had gripped hold of a banana.

The monkeys form part of two “rival gangs” of monkeys, some that live in the city and others that dwell in grounds of the city’s ancient Buddhist temples. According to The Bangkok Post, the two sides do not normally meet as they are divided by a train track.

“They looked more like wild dogs than monkeys,” said onlooker Sasaluk Rattanacha, who managed to capture the scene. “They went crazy for a single piece of food. I’ve never seen them this aggressive.”

“‘I think the monkeys were very, very hungry,” she continued. “There’s normally a lot of tourists here to feed the monkeys but now there are not as many, because of the coronavirus.”

Monkeys across the country are reportedly suffering from hunger as a result of the Chinese coronavirus, which has already led to a drop in tourist numbers of 44 percent. In this particular instance, locals stepped in to feed the primates with fresh watermelon and tomato.

Compared to other Asian countries including Japan and South Korea, Thailand has so far seen relatively few cases of Wuhan coronavirus, with just 59 cases and one death. In neighboring China, where the coronavirus outbreak began in the industrial city of Wuhan, over 80,000 people have been infected, causing over 3,000 deaths.

Despite their small number of cases, Thailand’s entire tourist industry is feeling the economic consequences of the outbreak, as Chinese tourists account for more than one-quarter of annual visitors.

With their tourism industry representing 18 percent of Thailand’s entire GDP, the country’s tourism minister recently warned that a crisis similar to the SARS outbreak in 2003 could cost the country an estimated $1.6 billion.

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