04 November 2013


By Syavira A.A, October 30, 2013 - Masked Monkey Performances known locally as Topeng Monyet are a regular fixture on Jakarta’s streets. The Street performances usually involve the monkeys dressed in tiny outfits, 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.

Most people don't know about the cruelty training behind all animals’ circuses, also about this monkey torture for Topeng Monyet performance. They are taught to walk upright by trainers who hang them from chains to a wall, forcing them to use their hind legs instead of walking on all fours. Most area trained and sold from East Jakarta’s South Cipinang Besar Slum, an area locally as Kampung Monyet, or monkey village.
Poverty drives panhandlers 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 Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) increasingly taking up. They invite community that cares or Animal Activists for collective action and take a stand to fight for animal rights and stop the Topeng Monyet. 

JAAN have long-campaigned for a government order banning the barbaric practice they said the government needs to enforce ban on monkeys who are forced to perform on Jakarta streets. And after intensive lobbying since 2009, they achieved a breakthrough in 2011 when former Jakarta’s governor “Fauzi Bowo” gave it the nod to help and allowed the JAAN to seize the monkeys off the streets. Thanks to them, Topeng Monyet is illegal since November 24, 2013.

Although penalties in effect for the monkey-handler but they keep trying to continue their business. The monkey-handlers said they earn more than the monthly basic salary of factory workers, who clock long hours daily. They rent a monkey for just Rp.15.000 to Rp.30.000 a day but have to pay monkey owners one million rupiah if they lose the animal. Playing cat-and-mouse with the authorities is not just wasting a lot of time for them but also eaten into their earnings but they never give up.

And because it is become an international issue, Jakarta’s governor “Joko Widodo” said that he has made an innovative solution to get rid of the capital of masked monkeys. The government will buyback all monkeys and prepared a one-hectare field at Ragunan Zoo to put an end to the cruel practice of Topeng Monyet. He also said the monkey-handlers will be taught career skills to find a new job.

The city administration ordered the city’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) to crackdown on the practice. Plain-clothes officers began to cut down street monkeys. They will be organizing a “Free Jakarta from Topeng Monyet” campaign in 2014. The posters of which will see the governor calling on the public not to abuse the primates, as if they do, they may be violating the Criminal Code on animal abuse and negligence. Indeed, the law states that violators face a maximum of seven years behind bars.
Now, we all know that the monkeys should live free in their wild nature, so let’s start to educate the public about Topeng Monyet. Help to hand out the Posters or Leaflets which is contain warnings that monkeys can act as hosts for human diseases and thus should not be treated as house pets. We can place it on notice boards, in shops, workplaces or just give away to people on the roadside. Let’s take action to rescue the monkeys.

As a Note: I've made this article as a midterm assignment for speaking 3. At first, I’m not so aware about the issue but after I read more about how they trained and being used by human, I think it's just not fair. Even though the monkeys can't speak out their mind, but if we take a look we'll know that they are tired and need to get back to their own habitat. So let’s us support the program, or at least pay attention about this issue by stop giving money to the monkey-handlers. 

“Being kind to animals is not enough, avoiding cruelty is not enough, housing animals in more comfortable larger cages is not enough. 
Whether we exploit animals to eat, to wear, to entertain us or to learn, the truth of animal rights requires empty cages not larger cages.” 
~ Tom Regan ~
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