New photos of monkeys begging on the roadside of Boyolali, Indonesia, have emerged online. The furry creatures are tied up by their owners and often forced to wear doll's heads in an attempt to earn a quick buck from passing tourists. Not only is this creepy, it's downright cruel.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty common for primates in Southeast Asia to be forced to dress up in unusual costumes so that their captors can gain money from tourists and passers-by. The monkeys are taken from the wild as babies, often while they are still breastfeeding, and sold. Their teeth are often removed without anesthetic before the animals are chained up and forced to learn tricks like riding a miniature bicycle or smoking cigarettes.
And the horrid treatment doesn’t stop there. The monkeys are also tortured in order to improve their leg strength so that they can walk like humans. A chain is tied around their necks, kept short, and attached to something close by. The animal then has to balance on a stone for hours – if it stops balancing, it will choke.
But thanks to animal activists and former Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, since 2014 the practice has been banned, and any monkeys found involved in Topeng Monyet, which means "dancing monkeys", are rescued. However, it appears that the practice still takes place illegally.
Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) in Indonesia has been running campaigns to focus on the exploitation of monkeys forced to entertain tourists since 2009. The animals are sometimes rented to street children to help them make money, although these children are often exploited by the monkeys' owners.
Other worrying factors include the terrible conditions in which the animals are kept. JAAN has previously reported that 20 percent of the monkeys they rescue have tuberculosis, while some individuals have been found to have hepatitis or leptospirosis, believed to have been caught from humans. The monkeys can then pass it on to people who come into contact with them.
Despite the recent crackdown on Topeng Monyet, it’s clear that the cruel use of performing monkeys is still a very real issue in Indonesia.