My Posts

These Are Bali’s Thieving Monkeys Who Ask for Food in Return

By Orgesta Tolaj


14 November 2023

Bali's Thieving Monkeys

© Massimo / Twitter & Jamie Haughton / Unsplash

Did you know monkeys could actually steal from you? If you answered with no, do we have some news for you! Recently, in Bali’s Uluwatu temple, a community of long-tailed macaques has been making a name for themselves. And this is all due to their intriguing interactions with tourists. Not only are they adorably cute, but they have also mastered the skill of grabbing onto valuable items. And this even includes smartphones. And get this, Bali’s thieving monkeys are also ready to bargain for you to get your items back!

Bali’s Thieving Monkeys

A video circulating on Instagram shows a monkey amusingly taking fruits from a woman and later returning her phone, leaving viewers in laughter. Recent reports highlight the negotiating skills of temple-dwelling primates, suggesting that they are adept at driving a hard bargain. A woman visiting a cliff-side location had to offer food to entice a monkey into returning her phone, showcasing the clever and strategic behavior exhibited by these primates.

Bali's Thieving Monkeys
© rainmaker1973 / Twitter

In the given situation, the woman’s initial offer of one fruit failed to capture the monkey’s interest. However, determined to retrieve her phone, she retrieved another fruit from her bag. The clever monkey ultimately accepted the second offer and returned the phone to the woman

The Viral Video of Bali’s Thieving Monkeys

The video, featured on the Instagram page of the travel agency Bali Top Holiday, showcases the monkey’s antics. The caption, composed in Indonesian and translated to English, intriguingly describes the behavior as a “transaction.” This suggests a playful interpretation of the monkey’s actions, highlighting its unique and seemingly intentional exchange of the stolen phone for food.

In the video, a playful encounter unfolds as a monkey, holding a phone, perches on a wall while a woman stands before it. The woman attempts to strike a deal by offering a fruit from her tote bag to the mischievous primate. However, the initial offering doesn’t seal the transaction. It’s only when she presents a second piece of fruit that the monkey agrees to return her phone, adding a touch of whimsy to the interaction and showcasing the monkey’s clever antics.

Here is the video:

Why Do Monkeys Do This?

As of January 11, 2021, a study revealed that long-tailed macaques at Bali’s Uluwatu temple had developed a strategy to obtain more food from tourists by pilfering valuable items like smartphones and prescription glasses. Jean-Baptiste Leca, an associate professor at the University of Lethbridge, Canada, and the study’s lead author observed that this behavior demonstrated the cultural intelligence of the monkeys. The study emphasized that the animals learned and perpetuated this behavior socially, spanning at least 30 years within the population at the Uluwatu temple.

Bali's Thieving Monkeys
© Harry Kessell / Unsplash

In the study, spanning 273 days and involving the filming of interactions between monkeys and tourists, researchers, led by Jean-Baptiste Leca, discovered that the animals exhibited a sophisticated understanding of bartering. The animals occasionally sought more favorable trades, such as demanding additional food for stolen items of higher value. This behavior demonstrated a nuanced and strategic approach to the monkeys’ interactions with humans.

Do you think you have what it takes to outsmart these monkeys, or will you end up going bananas?

You might also want to read: British Parrot Returns Home With a Spanish Accent

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!