6 min read

Zoo Monkey Spends Every Day Trying To Get Out Of These Chains

“It was heartbreaking” 💔

In an upsetting video, a chained macaque monkey holds his face in his hands as he neurotically rolls on the ground. A moment later, he stands and tries to walk forward. When the chain around his neck stops him, he rocks back and forth, looking visibly distressed. Then the macaque doubles back, plops down on the dirt and grabs tiny bits of grass to stuff into his mouth. But he can’t eat much — the freshest, greenest grass lies just beyond his reach.

Last month, members of the Scorpion Wildlife Monitoring Group, an Indonesian organization that works to protect animals, captured this footage at the Taman Galaxy Zoo in East Java, Indonesia.

“It was heartbreaking,” Marison Guciano, director for investigations for Scorpion Wildlife Monitoring Group, told The Dodo. “We do not understand why they have to keep the macaques in this condition. Do they have no conscience?”

But it wasn’t just one distressed macaque at the Taman Galaxy Zoo — five other macaques were also on display, either chained by the waist, or locked up in tiny cages without enrichment or access to food or water.

Monkey inside cage
Scorpion Wildlife Monitoring Group

Guciano believes that all of these macaques were stolen from the wild, so keeping them in these captive situations was particularly cruel.

Dozens of other animals, such as hornbills, owls, eagles, gibbons, snakes, crocodiles and deer, were also being kept in small cages at the zoo, Guciano said.

Hornbill bird inside cage
A sick looking hornbill inside of a cage at the Taman Galaxy Zoo in Indonesia | Scorpion Wildlife Monitoring Group

Unfortunately, the Taman Galaxy Zoo isn’t the only facility in Indonesia keeping animals in this way. Jason Baker, vice president of PETA Asia, told The Dodo that many zoos in Indonesia keep animals in poor conditions, and that there are essentially no laws to protect animals in the country.

Macaque chained by waist
A macaque monkey chained by his waist | Scorpion Wildlife Monitoring Group

“Animal-protection laws, particularly for animals in zoos and other entertainment displays in Indonesia, are essentially nonexistent,” Baker said. “Fighting awful situations like these is not usually possible from a legal standpoint because, for the most part, no laws are being broken.”

That said, zoos technically need a license to operate in Indonesia. Yet Guciano believes that the Taman Galaxy Zoo is running without a license, which may give animal welfare advocates leverage to shut the facility down.

Chained macaque at zoo
Scorpion Wildlife Monitoring Group,

“First, Taman Galaxy Zoo is not registered with the Indonesian Zoo and Aquarium Association,” Guciano said. “Secondly, and more covertly, they do not sell entrance tickets. Generally, zoos in Indonesia sell entrance tickets to finance their needs.”

Instead of making visitors pay to get in, the zoo charges for parking, Guciano explained. There are also restaurants and mini-marts inside the zoo, which would create extra revenue. But none of the profits seem to be going to the animals.

Macaque monkey at zoo
Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group

The Dodo could not immediately reach the Taman Galaxy Zoo for comment.

Baker believes that the Indonesian government needs to take action to combat animal cruelty and neglect in zoos.

Chained macaque at zoo
Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group

“Licensed zoos are reviewed by the government and veterinarians who consider, for example, the welfare of the animals at the zoo, death rates, and the zoo’s facilities,” Baker said. “Despite these reviews, these abysmal zoos continue to run because they generate money. The Indonesian government must stop turning a blind eye to the abuse and neglect of these animals and shut down these zoos immediately.”

To support investigations of zoos in Indonesia, you can make a donation to Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group. You can also follow the organization’s work on Facebook.