Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Uncle Fatty: Obese Monkey Shows Dangers of Human Food

By Tia Ghose, Senior Writer | May 4, 2017 05:23pm ET 

A morbidly obese macaque who lives near a floating market in Thailand is raising eyebrows for his sheer size.

At about 33 lbs. (15 kilograms), the chubby monkey, dubbed "Uncle Fatty" by tourists in the park, dwarfs his average-size comrades, who typically weigh about between 13.2 and 15.4 lbs. (6 and 7 kg), said Patricia Turner, a pathobiologist at the University of Guelph in Canada, who has studied obesity in macaques. The portly primate is now entering a special wildlife rescue center to get to a healthier state.

But how exactly did Uncle Fatty get so rotund, and are the causes and consequences of obesity in animals similar to those found in humans?

"Like humans, macaques become obese from consuming excess calories — regardless of the type of food," Turner told Live Science in an email.

And it turns out that Uncle Fatty isn't alone: As animals that live in association with humans take up the habits of people, the animals too are facing increased rates of obesity and metabolic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, Turner said. [See Images of Uncle Fatty, the Obese Macaque in Thailand]

Uncle Fatty's weight
In Uncle Fatty's case, the problem is clear: too much food. He lives near a popular floating food market (where goods are sold from boats) frequented by tourists who love to see the portly monkey chow down. Among his favorite treats are noodles, sweet corn on the cob, milkshakes and sweet melons. Macaques and humans are physiologically very similar, and for both, too many calories lead to excess weight gain, Turner said.

"Uncle [Fatty] has got[ten] fat because he has just been eating everything that people give to him," Kawinoat MongKholtechaphat, an organizer with the primate conservation group Monkey Lovers, which is helping Uncle Fatty get to a healthier weight, told The Mirror. "He's not sick. He just needs help. He likes eating, and there are lots of visitors and tourists who give him food all day."

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