By Merritt Clifton
It’s curtains for street corner monkey acts in northwestern Java, hopes Jakarta Animal Aid Network founder Femke Den Haas. Locally called topang monyet, meaning “masked monkeys,” the acts have proliferated over the past decade, becoming a JAAN campaign target in 2009.
Crackdowns ordered by Jakarta governor Joko Widodo and Surakarta mayor F.X. Hadi Rudyatmo in late October and early November 2013 sent some monkey handlers into hiding. Others collected compensation of about $90 per monkey surrendered to wildlife officials and hoped that official pledges of job training for former handlers would be fulfilled.
“Tied to leashes and forced to wear doll masks and beg for money as they totter along on their hind legs, the performing monkeys have long been a common sight in Jakarta,” reported the South China Morning Post. “But in recent years authorities and animal-rights groups have been stepping up efforts to crack down on the practice. Widodo has now announced a plan to get the animals off the streets by 2014.”
Jakarta code enforcement officers during the last week of October 2013 impounded 22 monkeys. The monkeys were to be quarantined by the Jakarta Marine & Agriculture Agency, preliminary to transfer to the Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta.
The monkeys “were stressed. Some tried to attack and some recoiled when we approached them,” city veterinarian Valentina Aswindrastuti told the South China Morning Post. “They also had swollen gums and rotten teeth.”
Some handlers contended that the monkeys had cost them as much as $135 apiece, far less than the offered compensation, but Jakarta Public Order Agency chief Ipih Ruyani said topang monyet monkeys actually sell for $20 to $30.
“We estimate that there are 60 exploited monkeys in the capital, mostly in North and East Jakarta,” Ipih Ruyani told Sita W. Dewi of the Jakarta Post.
JAAN had projected that there might be from 200 to 350 topang monyet monkeys in Jakarta, but many may have been abruptly hustled away to other cities. More....