Activists Renew Calls for Ban on Jakarta’s Monkey Circuses
Source : The Jakarta Globe, Ismira Lutfia | September 18, 2011
Link : http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/jakarta/activists-renew-calls-for-ban-on-jakartas-monkey-circuses/466190
Animal rights activists have urged Jakarta to ban the use of monkeys to panhandle on city streets, a practice that is believed to exploit at least 450 long-tailed macaques.
Benfika, a spokesman for the Jakarta Animal Aid Network, said the practice of topeng monyet , in which macaques are made to wear masks and dance or perform other stunts by their handlers, violates the basic principles of animal welfare.
“Some people may think it’s funny but they don’t realize the monkeys are in agony,” he said at a rally on Sunday at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Central Jakarta. “We hope the Jakarta administration issues a ban and frees the city from such panhandling.”
He pointed out that it was a matter of enforcing statutes that were already on the books, including a 2007 bylaw prohibiting people from giving money to panhandlers.
Benfika said that another law the monkey handlers were violating was an article in the Criminal Code on the mistreatment of animals, which is punishable by a token Rp 4,500 (50 cents) fine and a maximum of three months in jail.
“But the authorities never really take any action on this,” he said. “All they did was vaccinate some of the monkeys, but we believe this is not enough because we want to put an end to the cruelty against the animals.”
Long-tail macaques are not categorized as a protected or endangered species in Indonesia. The monkeys used in the topeng monyet sideshows are typically rented out by their owners to the handlers for Rp 15,000 to Rp 20,000 a day.
The handlers can expect to take home Rp 50,000 to Rp 70,000 after several hours of forcing the animals to perform by the side of some of Jakarta’s busiest roads.
Benfika said the JAAN had identified at least 450 such monkeys in Jakarta owned by major bosses in three areas: the East Jakarta slum area of South Cipinang Besar, famously known as Kampung Monyet (Monkey Village), where at least 150 macaques are kept in cramped wooden cages; an area alongside Jalan Fatmawati in South Jakarta; and in a slum near the Kampung Rambutan bus terminal in East Jakarta.
He said that if the city administration was serious about imposing a ban, the JAAN would be willing to house the monkeys in a temporary shelter to rehabilitate them before releasing them back into their natural habitats.
Benfika said the JAAN, which has been spearheading the campaign since 2009, had collected more than 10,000 names through an online petition to support the cause.
Among those taking part in Sunday’s rally, which was a follow-up to a rally on Thursday outside City Hall, were Jessica, Ignes and Jesslyn, all high school students at the Sinarmas World Academy and members of the school’s animal lover group.
“Monkeys have feelings too and we can’t exploit them,” Jessica said.
Jesslyn said she was concerned about the way that the monkeys were forced to wear masks and costumes.
“It must be really suffocating for them. They already have their own fur, they don’t need to wear costumes,” she said.