Uncle Fat, an obese Thai monkey, heads to rehab

Three times the normal weight of the average macaque, Uncle Fat gorged himself on food from tourists

About a month after the Thai festival of Songkran, it’s a case of new year, new macaque, as a morbidly obese monkey is put on a diet.

Known locally as Uncle Fat, the male monkey gorged himself on junk food and soft drinks left behind by tourists to Thailand. Now in the care of an animal sanctuary, he’s been put on a strict diet of lean protein, fruit and vegetables.

The authorities were tipped off when photos of the wild animal started circulating on Thai social media in April. Macaques are a favourite of visitors to Thailand, with the monkeys canny enough to know that human beings will happily feed them should they get close enough.

The typical macaque weighs in at roughly 9kg, but when officials managed to get Uncle Fat onto a scale, they were shocked to see he weighs 26kg.

Believed to be between the age of 10 and 15, Uncle Fat now must make do on 400g of lean protein, fruits and vegetables twice a day. The animal shelter where he is undergoing his new regime hopes to be able to rerelease him into the wild within a few months.

Despite being three times heavier than he should be, capturing Uncle Fat proved trickier than officials were expecting.

Veterinarian Supakan Kaewchot prepares fresh food for a wild obese macaque called Uncle Fat at a animal centre in Bangkok, Thailand. The morbidly obese wild monkey, who gorged himself on junk food and soda from tourists, has been rescued and placed on a strict diet [AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit]

“It was not easy to catch him,” said Kacha Phukem, who nabbed Uncle Fat on April 27th.

“He was the leader of his pack, and when I tried to go in, I had to fight off a flock of them with sticks.”

As the alpha male in his group’s strict social hierarchy, Uncle Fat ran a tight ship.

“He had minions and other monkeys bringing food for him, but he would also re-distribute it to younger monkeys,” said Supakarn Kaewchot, the vet responsible for his care.

“He is now in a critical condition, where there is a high-risk of heart disease and diabetes.”

All tourists to Thailand are reminded to not feed the local animals, lest more and more macaques suffer the same fate as Uncle Fat.

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