Monkey Training College: 11 years and counting

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Although the renowned Somporn Sae Kow, a dedicated monkey trainer, passed away more than a decade ago, the Monkey Training College in Kanchanadit district in the southern province of Surat Thani still lives on.

Carried on by his family and managed by his daughter, who seems to have inherited some of her father’s spirit, the Sae Kow family have dedicated time, money and endless effort to ensure that monkeys, like we humans, can be trained in order to develop and use their utmost capacities.

The training college for monkeys was the first of its kind in the South. Actually in the country for that matter, particularly designed for short-tailed monkeys. The learning setting enables those interested to bring their monkeys to receive proper training for various specialty skills–courses ranging from collecting coconuts from coconut trees all the way to solving and unravelling bizarre knots. Monkey owners must pay a tuition fee, which is inclusive of food and accommodation, with classes of 3-6 months are classified into three levels, beginners, intermediate and advanced.

“My father was just a normal, local man… but he was able to make us all proud and make his name known all around the word for what he did passionately throughout his life,” said Somjai Sae Kow, Monkey Training College.

“I love this monkey. This is different type of monkey, the short-tailed monkey.

This monkey is very very smart. Most of the monkeys like me,” said Josh, a tourist.

Training a human-being is already a difficult task, so imagine the challenges involved in training animals. As a devoted trainer, she admits that it takes an enormous amount of patience and determination in order to successfully train the monkeys. More importantly, non-violent means of training is used throughout the six months training course.

“For this job, as long as there are monkeys, coconuts, and an interest by the public, then I am very happy to continue doing what I currently do,” Somjai said.

Times are changing. Despite the decline in the number of farmers bringing their monkeys to enroll in ‘Monkey U’s’ classes, interested Thais and foreigners still show up eager to learn more about this fascinating speciality of the world of learning.

Dedicated to its heritage, and rooted in skills training that affects the qualities of life for families as well as their monkeys, the Monkey Training College does what it must, completing the equation for a College of distinction, is carrying on striving to continue enriching communities with a special skill that future generations can be proud of.