A video of a woman in Bali, Indonesia, negotiating with a monkey and bribing the animal with food to get her stolen phone back has recently gone viral on social media, highlighting how primates in Indonesian temples are learning how to bargain.
The video, which was shared on multiple social media platforms in early October, including on X and Instagram
, shows a woman negotiating with a monkey
to get her phone back while visiting a cliff-side location in Bali
The woman initially offers one fruit; however, the monkey seems disinterested in her proposal, prompting her to get another fruit from her bag. The monkey eventually agrees with the second offer and hands the phone back to the woman.
Going viral: The post went viral on the two social media platforms, receiving over 25.3 million post views on X and amassing more than 344,000 likes on Instagram.
How people reacted:
Several X users found the video amusing, with one user
noting how the woman traded “two apples for one apple,” while another comment
joked that it “seems like a pretty good deal” to them.
Meanwhile, Instagram users also found the interaction funny, with one user noting that next time, the monkeys will “pull out a small iPad and ask us to pay gratuities as well.”
Another Instagram user also pondered, “So you’re telling me someone could walk up there with a bag of apples and walk away with a handful of phones.”
Learning the ropes:
A study published
on Jan. 11, 2021, discovered that the long-tailed macaques residing at the Uluwatu temple in Bali
had found a way to get more food from tourists by stealing their most valuable items, such as electronics like smartphones
and even prescription glasses.
The monkeys reportedly learned this behavior of stealing and bartering from other older monkeys when they were young and up to 4 years old.
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Leca, an associate professor in the psychology department at the University of Lethbridge in Canada and lead author of the study, noted that this is an expression of the cultural intelligence of the animal, adding that the monkeys learned
the behavior socially and have maintained it “across generations … for at least 30 years in this population.”
Striking up deals: During the study, which consisted of filming the interactions between the monkeys and tourists for 273 days, Leca and the other researchers learned that the animals would sometimes demand better trades, like for more food, for stolen items with higher values.