The Jakarta city administration is set to release dozens of former masked monkeys it rescued last year back into the wild.
Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Thursday that he would personally be releasing the monkeys, most of which were found suffering from tuberculosis and hepatitis and were treated at the Ragunan animal and fish treatment facility in South Jakarta.
“Most of the monkeys were sick. We don’t want to endanger the other animals in Ragunan Zoo,” Jokowi told reporters at City Hall on Thursday.
The governor, however, gave his assurances that he would not release the monkeys until they were given a clean bill of health.
“After being declared healthy, the monkeys will be released into the woods. An alternative would be Thousand Islands,” he added.
Jakarta Marine Affairs and Agriculture Agency head Ipih Ruyani said that as many as 67 monkeys of the 83 monkeys it had rescued throughout 2013 were set to be released.
“We will release them on the islands of Tikus, Damar and Bokor [Thousand Islands] once the weather is good,” she said, adding that the remaining 16 monkeys were still receiving treatment for tuberculosis.
Previously, the Ragunan Zoo management had refused to accommodate the rescued monkeys, fearing that they could harm the other animals.
Some people suggested, however, that the monkeys should be exterminated; an idea that was opposed by the governor.
“Why kill monkeys we have saved from the streets?” he said.
Jokowi said he aimed to eradicate the capital of masked monkey dances, which is considered a form of animal abuse, by the end of 2014.
According to the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), most monkeys used for these shows were tortured to make them obedient. The monkeys usually lived with their handlers.
Such practices pose health risks for both the monkeys and their handlers, as monkeys with tuberculosis can transmit the disease to humans and vice versa.
JAAN recorded 300 long-tail monkeys were exploited in masked monkey shows in 2012.