No More Monkey Business
Maria Kegel, WEEKENDER | Tue, 01/31/2012 1:27 PM |
Performing monkeys (chained topeng monyet) – a familiar sight around Jakarta – do not have much to dance about.
A YouTube video on the plight of the animals captures the training process of a baby long-tailed macaque as his arms are tightly restrained behind his back with wire found on the ground. Then, he is chained from his metal collar to a clothesline that is strung too high above his head. Without the use of his arms, the chained monkey desperately struggles to balance himself among the litter on the ground, using his feet to climb onto a rock so he doesn’t hang by his neck.
He succeeds, and so the process unnaturally forces the primate to learn to stand on fully extended legs, achieving a cuter appearance in the eyes of onlookers. In another scene, the video shows the trainer yanking the chain on the monkey’s collar to make him balance a stick over his shoulders; when the young primate fails to do so, he gets a sharp rap on the head with another stick.
Training process over, the video shows monkeys rented out to inexperienced handlers who yank the chains to make the monkeys perform roadside tricks with props for passing cars.
Two peaceful demonstrations organized by the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) near the Governor’s Office in September and a petition circulated citywide that collected 8,000 signatures in favor of stopping this practice directed the city officials’ attention to the primates’ public exploitation.
In October, Governor Fauzi Bowo publicly pledged his support for the campaign to JAAN co-founder Femke Den Haas and said he would like to see the monkeys off the streets, adding that he was ready to take steps against the practice and to work together with the volunteer animal welfare organization.
With Fauzi’s backing of the initiative, JAAN, with the support of Stichting AAP rescue center in the Netherlands, held training sessions for members of the police force and agricultural ministry to instruct officers in safe methods for carrying out confiscations and on the applicable laws, namely the 2009 law on begging and primarily, the law on animal welfare.
Action swiftly followed with the first monkey confiscated on November 24 and three more on December 13.
“The monkeys are all in very bad condition – their teeth were slammed out, resulting in horrific infections, and they are completely traumatized. Any movement by us makes them think we want to beat them up,” Den Haas told The Jakarta Post the day after the three monkeys were confiscated.
The recent rescues mark the culmination of JAAN’s two-and-a-half-year campaign during which the organization investigated and exposed training techniques, held meetings with the local government and Police, and sent proposals to the governor in an effort to rid the city of the practice.
At the training sessions, the head of the environmental department at the City Police, along with the head of the Indonesian Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Wiwiek Bagja, voiced the need for the confiscations and to halt this animal abuse, Den Haas says.
“I personally had tears in my eyes when we pulled the mask off the first monkey, [because I am] so happy to put a stop to this horrific cruelty and so angry for it being allowed to go on for so long,” Den Haas says, while admitting that with the hundreds of captive monkeys in the capital awaiting confiscation, fundraising would be necessary to cover their medical costs and safe release.
“I know we still have a long way to go.”
For updates on the issue visit www.jakartaanimalaid.com