Probably, and it is likely, that the term of Street Monkey Show used for this article is not quite proper to show the meaning. However, it is difficult to find an appropriate term for an Indonesian term “Topeng Monyet” or Ronggeng Monyet”. Google Translate doesn’t have words that can represent this performance in its database, at least not yet.
If it is translated word by word then the meaning is too far and may direct to misunderstanding. “Topeng” in English is a “mask” and “Monyet” is a monkey, “Topeng Monyet” should be translated as a “Monkey Mask” which may cause readers to something to cover a face. There is adequate word for “Ronggeng” either.
Anyway, this “Monkey Show” is a type of attraction done by a monkey (or monkeys) which is held on streets. During the show, the monkey (s) will perform several actions, like praying, riding kick scooter, or many others. Most of the actions are imitations of what human beings usually do. They (the monekys) dress to replicate human as well.
The show will be conducted by one a diviner or monkey tamer who will control the monkey(s) by holding one hand of long chain. He will give a signal when the monkey should do this action or that action by pulling the chain.
The other members of the team who run the show is a person who beats a drum to provide a simple music. One team can consist of one or two monkeys.
There is no fare applied as this is a street performance. Spectators can come and see the show and if they like it, they can show the appreciation by putting coins or money to provided place.
It is also often to find the monkey show team circling housing complex to find anyone who wants to use their service.
Such show is actually prohibited to run by Indonesia Laws due to many reasons. Animal abuse is one of the reasons and another one is that the monkeys are often not properly cared and handle. The usage of long chain to control them shows it.
Unfortunately, in reality, the shows are still often found in many cities in this country. The shows can still be found easily in my hometown, Bogor. The pictures in this articles were captured few days ago in Bogor Car Free Day.
Most of them who run street monkey shows are coming from poor people who do the show to earn a living. It is not easy to find job opportunity in Indonesia, the competition is very fierce. Many who have no skill can find it very difficult to even get a job. Better than doing nothing, they decide to do whatever they can to make sure they can support their family.
The monkey show is one of the way they choose to survive.
Now, here is the dilemma.
It breaks rule, definitely. There is no question of that. Animal lovers may scream if they see how the monkey treated during the show. It won’t be easy to see when the chain around the neck of the money strained because the diviner tugs it. Somehow, I could see pain from the monkey face.
Yes, lots of Indonesians feel the same too. I posted the picture in this article to a photography community and many of them reacted by giving a sad emoticon for the pictures. Others commented hoping and praying that the person who runs the show to be given a consciousness that he will release the monkey.
Yeah. I do hope the same feeling too.
On the other hand, I also have another thought. How will the show runner be if the monkey is released (either by law enforcer or others). Their families rely on the money produced by the monkeys. They also need also to pay for food, house, and also education fee.
It may be an easy problem if you leave in developed countries who provides social security for their people. However, there is still no such system in this country, yet. Therefore, if you can not earn money, then you are in trouble. Everybody must support for their and family’s own life.
So, the option is either we must prioritize human being (the tamer) or the animal (the monkey).
Which option will you choose in this case?
I can not answer. Honestly, I can’t. I can not stand to keep seeing the condition of the monkeys but at the same time, I know also how difficult it is to earn living, especially, if you have no skill.
What I can is only to spread the captured pictures to several community I joined trying to spread message about the fate of the monkeys. With this, I hope the consciousness about environment can be developed. Perhaps, animal lovers may feel it is enough. However, it is the least I can do to solve the dilemma.
At the same time, I am also hoping that there is a miracle that somehow, the monkeys will be released.