Dancing Monkeys: Entertainment or Abuse?Published June 15, 2011
Stop Animal Abuse: Getty Images
The Jakarta Animal Aid Network is trying to stop animal abuse by helping the dancing monkeys in Indonesia.
For decades, in Jakarta, Indonesia, to make an honest living the job “Monkey Master" has been considered a decent profession. The “masters” and monkeys give local residents who enjoy watching the costumed dancing animals perform on the city streets some entertainment and a few laughs. Apparently, it is quite a popular past time for those who attend the shows.
However, the “Monkey Masters” claim if they could find other employment, they would gladly give up the work in exchange for having to train monkeys to do a variety of tricks just to keep the public happy. And for their work “monkey masters” hope to receive only an equivalent of 20 cents from passers-by.
While audiences may get a kick from watching the performing monkeys, and may think these animals enjoy themselves while wearing miniaturized human outfits with a doll’s head as a mask, the fact of the matter is that the practice of Topeng Monyet (dancing monkeys) is a form of animal abuse.
On the busy crowded streets of Jakarta, young macaque monkeys are made to ride bicycles, wear a variety of masks, and dance for public amusement. Many of these macaques are captured from the wild and are obtained in illegal trade.
According to the Jakarta Animal Aid Network, to train the monkeys to stand on two feet and walk upright, they are chained to a wall, and hung upside down, their necks clamped with chains. Nanang, one of the monkey handlers said, “We usually hang the monkeys for half a day before we release them for a few hours to feed them and let them rest. After that, we hang them again for a few hours until the day’s training is over and we put them back in their cages. But we have to hit them, too, sometimes.”
According to another trainer, some handlers keep their monkeys hanging all day without feeding them or giving them a break, often resulting in medical problems or even death.
To facilitate training, some monkeys are starved and only fed when they have learned to obey commands. What is even more alarming: these highly intelligent primates are forced to live in cages often fashioned out of wooden crates, and are not given the opportunity to interact with one another. As highly social animals, their isolation often causes serious emotional disturbance and can certainly be considered animal abuse.
And while some may feel compassion for the handlers who must feed their families and are unable to find other work, there is no question these monkeys are exploited and horrendously treated. It is the goal of the Jakarta Animal Aid Network to stop animal abuse.
Pramudya Harzani, a spokesperson for the organization said, “We are very concerned about this situation. This is not entertainment; this is cruelty to animals.”
Watch the video uploaded to YouTube by AlJazeeraEnglish to see the monkeys performing.
Are the dancing monkeys adorable, or are they being abused? Share your thoughts in a comment.