Viral Fat Macaque, "Uncle Fat," Is Actually Much Better Off Now
A notorious monkey recently enjoyed a small resurgence of fame.
An enormous macaque that’s going viral on Reddit might just give Knickers the giant Australian steer a run for its money. On Friday, a gif posted to the subreddit /r/WTF showed an obese macaque — so big its belly blankets its splayed legs — chowing down on leafy greens. Cute as the big boy is, the reason he got so fat is decidedly not.
Though the post, captioned simply “Macaque is huge,” just recently became popular, the macaque in the video is actually no stranger to the internet. He is “Uncle Fat,” who formerly lived in the wild areas near Bangkok, Thailand, and became obese after eating all the junk food and soda left behind by tourists. The video above shows Uncle Fat in 2016 in Bangkhunthian City before he was captured by wildlife officials in May 2017 and put on a strict diet — hence, the salad.
In 2017, when he first started making headlines, The Guardian reported that, while most wild monkeys weigh around 20 lbs, a poor diet of discarded tourist trash caused his weight to skyrocket to around 60 lbs.
“After he ate food given by humans for a while, he developed a fat mass, which became a type of benign tumor,” said Supakarn Kaewchot, a veterinarian from the primate conservation group Monkey Lovers. “He is now in critical condition where there is a high risk of heart disease and diabetes.”
Macaques in Thailand usually subsist on a diet of fruits, seeds, plants, and the occasional small animal, like a clam or crab — hardly bags of Lays chips, but tourists can’t help feeding the monkeys, despite repeated warnings. Of course, it didn’t help that Uncle Fat was the dominant male in his community, which meant that his “minions” would collect junk and bring it directly to him, CityLab reported.
After he was captured by officials in May 2017, he was put on a 400-gram-per-day diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. By August 2017, his diet was officially deemed a success: Uncle Fat was fat no more. “His tummy no longer drags on the ground,” said Natanon Panpetch, a veterinarian at the Wildlife Conservation Office, in an interview with the BBC. “He is in perfect health and ready to be released. He has grown accustomed to the natural foods.”
While we’re glad Uncle Fat is continuing to enjoy residual internet fame, we hope his hunger for attention doesn’t result in a relapse.