The Flying Monkey Monkeys are a family of wild monkeys native to central and southern Thailand. Known for their agile bodies, quick movements, and high intelligence, the monkeys can be seen all over the country and have become a tourist favorite. The first flying monkey was captured in 2021 by accident by a Thai conservation officer trying to protect the remaining population of monkeys. Since then, more than 200 of these flying monkeys have been saved from being destroyed. Tours to the Royal Forest Department of Thailand (RFD) allow visitors to witness the monkeys in their natural habitat and help save their home.
The flying monkey is one of Thailand’s threatened species. Their natural habitat is located near the banks of the Andaman Sea where they feed on fruits and leaves. Captured and trained at CREDA, the wild monkeys are used as a source of food and valuable medical material for wildlife rehabilitation and research around the country. They are trained in a variety of skills including climbing, walking, and throwing spears. They are also trained to retrieve fish and keep logs.
The flying monkeys are often compared to cockatoos but are far different in appearance. Their chest is covered with a thick red fur which is striped with dark patches. The legs and tail are also striped. A wide gap separates the face and tail. Because of their rapid movements, they are unable to hide, and are prone to attack from neighboring monkeys or other animals. Their dense fur keeps them warm and allows them to keep steady flight during cold months.
The Flying Monkey
The flying monkeys are an incredible example of the richness of Thailand’s flora and fauna. Their delicate features, unique plumage, and slow, lumbering flight create an illusion of motion that is uncommon in its kind. The monkeys are the largest flying mammal in the world, weighing up to 7 pounds. The coloration of the bird indicates that they are nocturnal, and they breed during the late evening when it becomes dark and they can take advantage of the lighting available at Wat Arun (the largest island in Thailand). It is said the fastest flying monkey is the Amazons, which can reach speeds of more than 80 miles per hour.
The flying monkeys are so rare that they are protected in the wild. A small population of these flying mammals is found on Ko Phi Island, off the southern tip of Thailand. One species, the White-Rumped Munty, is seen on Phang Nga Bay. This tiny island lacks both the facilities needed for a zoo and the strict breeding standards required for these Flying Monkeys. A few hundred of the delta white flying monkeys are being raised on Phuket and Laem Sed, in addition to a small number in Nathon and Krabi. A few pairs of these monkeys have been reintroduced to Phang Nga Bay since 1999.
Today, there is a large breeding effort under way in Thailand to protect the remaining monkeys. A similar effort is ongoing in the delta in Vietnam. Until recently, the Flying Monkey was thought to be a one-of-a-kind creature. Now, however, this specie has been widely domesticated, and it is possible to buy a flying monkey from a reliable source, like Animals Asia, which sells a wide variety of these flying monkeys. A small population of these monkeys is also growing rapidly in Surat, Gujarat.