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Tambon Tha Hin, Thailand

Phra Prang Sam Yot

Monkeys lounge around at this 13th century temple. 

The new residents of Phra Prang Sam Yot aren’t Buddhists or Hindus, they’re primates.

Phra Prang Sam Yot is a 13th century temple built by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII. It was originally used as a Buddhist temple, converted to a temple to Shiva after Jayavarman’s death, then repurposed for Buddhism again in the 1600s, all of which is evident in its multi-symbolic architecture. It remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the old city of Lopburi, but not for its religious significance or cultural history. It’s because of the monkeys.

The temple has been overrun by macaques. This may have started because of the annual Monkey Buffet Festival that occurs in the city, during which locals give them fruits and vegetables. Now the monkey population is over 2,000, and most of them live in the temple in relative isolation from the human population. However, living in such close quarters with humans has made them unafraid to snatch treats and personal belongings right out of your hands. Their aggression has gotten serious enough that the city has designated officials to feed them at specific times during the day so that they won’t attack tourists.

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