Jakarta swoops in to rescue performing monkeys
By Presi Mandari ,AFPJAKARTA -- Lying low in a slum in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, monkey handler Tardi does not dare take his long-tailed macaque out to perform in the streets for fear of being caught in a new crackdown.
October 26, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
He and fellow handlers have been keeping a low profile in recent days after city authorities launched their toughest bid yet to rescue the animals which they say have been kept for years in squalid conditions.
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 teeming, traffic-clogged Jakarta.
But in recent years authorities and animal rights groups have been stepping up efforts to crack down on the practice, and city governor Joko Widodo has now announced a plan to get the animals off the streets by 2014.
“This has become an international issue,” Widodo said. “Please have pity for these monkeys who have been abused by their owners.”
After taking power in October last year, he ordered officials to step up efforts to get the monkeys off the streets, but the campaign that got under way this week is his most ambitious yet.
A central part of it is offering compensation of one million rupiah (around US$90) to every handler from whom a monkey is seized, as well as offering to train them in new professions.
To kick off the campaign, public-order officers, who assist the national police in maintaining peace, launched a series of raids across the city. They have so far seized 21 monkeys and sent them to be quarantined, according to officials.
The rescued monkeys “were stressed, some tried to attack and some recoiled when we approached them,” vet Valentina Aswindrastuti from the Jakarta quarantine facility told AFP. “They also had swollen gums and rotten teeth.”
The monkeys, known in Indonesian as “topeng monyet,” which means “masked monkey,” are typically in bad health after being kept for years in cramped, filthy cages.