Jakarta Says No to Dancing Monkey Shows

The shows involve monkeys wearing funny masks and performing acrobatic tricks.

INDONESIA

Sabtu, 16 Nov 2013 14:36 WIB

Author

Erric Permana KBR68H

Jakarta Says No to Dancing Monkey Shows

Indonesia, dancing monkey show, Jakarta, animal right, Erric Permana KBR68H

Next year, you won’t see “topeng monyet” or roadside monkey performanceson the streets of Jakarta.

The shows involve monkeys wearing funny masks and performing acrobatic tricks.

The governor of Jakarta Joko Widodo has ordered the ban and security forces are conducting raids to rescue the monkeys.

In Jakarta, dozens of monkey handlers are waiting in line to be registered by local authorities in Jakarta.

One of them is 30-year-old Badri who joined the business a year ago. He has handed over his monkey to the authorities.

“What else can I do? I want the government to give some money so I can open a new business.”

The government will buy each monkey from the monkey handlers and caretakers for 90 US dollars. And the handlers will be provided with vocational training to help find new jobs.

Cecep, who has been earning money from his monkeys, says he will hold the government to its promise.

“I know about the promise from the media... that my monkeys will be traded in for a new job. But I don’t know what kind of job it will be”

The governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo, says monkey handlers will not be punished for their use of animals.

“The monkey performances are obstructing public order because the shows are on the streets. Monkeys might have rabies too. That’s why we’re banning monkey performances from the capital. The handlers will be taken care of after they’ve been registered. Most of them are not from the area.”

Jakarta’s authorities have started raiding neighborhoods and confiscating the monkeys.

Animal rights group have long claimed the monkeys are being mistreated by their handlers.

They say the animals are tortured to remain obedient and their teeth are pulled so they can’t bite... something that handlers like Cecep deny.

“The media says that we torture the monkeys. That’s not true. At home we even feed them milk. The media are exaggerating, just ask any handler around. We take care of the monkeys. When they’re sick, we spend up to 9 US dollars on them... which is more that we spend when we get sick.”

But in a video recorded by the Jakarta Animal Aid Network JAAN shows how the monkeys are trained to stand-up like humans.

“I will pay 100 US dollars for anybody who can train wild monkeys to stand on two feet!” says Hamdan, a monkey trainer in Jakarta.

“In the training, we tie its two hands to the back, and we push its neck to face the sky. They’re not going to die because of that. It will only take an hour for the training. After that, we put them down again on their four legs and give them something to drink and eat.”

The rescued monkeys are then taken to a shelter near Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta.

There are already nearly 60 monkeys in cages and only staffs are allowed access.

“We understand that you all want to go inside,” says Sri Hartati from Jakarta’s Agriculture Office.

“But the doctor says the monkeys are not clean yet. We haven’t done examining all of them. Some of them are sick.”

It’s so sterile inside that officers have to wear masks, a special uniform and clean their shoes before entering the shelter. Inside the officers are taking blood samples from the monkeys.

Quarantine officer Fahmi says the blood will show whether or not the monkeys have infectious diseases.

“We’re checking for TB and hepatitis. They will be taken to Ragunan Zoo in the future, so we’re checking their condition now.”

The monkeys will be quarantined for up to 6 months for a medical check-up and will undergo a rehabilitation process.

“These monkeys have come from the streets. After several checks, we will group them. Monkeys live in a colony, so it might take some time for the rehabilitation process. They’re all good now. They’re happy. Their physical condition is more or less the same. They’re playing inside.”

The monkey rehabilitation process will be carried out with the help of a local NGO, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network, or JAAN.

JAAN spokesman Benvika says some of the monkeys were found in miserable conditions.

“22 percent of monkeys have hepatitis, some have gum infections, or tuberculosis. And 100 percent of them have worms, many of them are very skinny.”

Ideally, JAAN would like to relocate the monkeys to an isolated island off the coast of Jakarta.

But the Jakarta government has other plans, says Sri Hartati.

“The monkeys will be taken to Ragunan Zoo. There are many visitors there and many healthy animals. We have to be totally sure that these monkeys are healthy before sending them there. We’re going to vaccinate them.”

The monkeys will be housed inside a one-hectare enclosure in the Ragunan zoo.

Benvika from JAAN is asking for the government to build the new home for the monkeys in a setting which is as natural as possible.

“It’d be good to have a semi-natural forest there for the monkeys. Or a man-made forest with some separators so the monkeys can’t get out but are free to move around inside.”

Following the move in Jakarta, authorities in Surakarta, in Central Java, are also planning to ban the masked monkey shows.


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