I had thought that organ grinders with dancing monkeys were a cruel phenomenon of the past.
I stand corrected: As the Denver Post reports, trained endangered macaque monkeys known as “topeng monyet” can still be seen performing on the streets of Indonesia:
The street performances usually involve the monkeys wearing masks, such as dolls’ heads or attire to mimic humans, with the monkeys trained to act out human activities such as shopping, riding bicycles or other simulations of human behavior.
Poverty drives the handlers to exploit the monkeys in the hope of earning small change, but the effect and cruelty to the monkeys is a cause that charities such as the Jakarta Animal Aid Network are increasingly taking up.
The monkeys are kept chained in “monkey villages,” where they are trained to perform to stand on two feet, jump through rings, pull carts and other “tricks.” Take a look at the images of the monkeys on the Denver Post: The sight of them wearing dolls’ head masks is horrific.
Teams of poachers use sickening methods to trap them. The most popular one is to shoot the mother and then prise the clinging baby off her.
Baby macaques are preferred as they have a longer life as performers. The poachers are paid £2 for each monkey by dealers, who sell them on to street “entertainers” in Jakarta for £5 each.
It’s here the torture really begins. The monkeys are hung upside down so they learn how to walk upright. Chains are then clamped around their necks and they have to stand up straight or be punished.
The monkeys are starved and only fed when they obey to make sure they learn quickly. The highly-social primates are forced to live inside cramped wooden crates and can’t interact with each other, leading them to become deeply disturbed.
Photo by Alwita.