Animal cruelty, toddler cruelty and contempt for social distancing are all on display in a viral video from Indonesia, in which a trained monkey rides a tiny motorbike before attacking a young child.
The incident took place on Saturday (May 2) in the East Java capital of Surabaya and involved a traditional form of street entertainment known as topeng monyet (literally: masked monkey).
The video shows the monkey accompanied by traditional gamelan percussion music as it rides a miniature motorcycle down Gang Mawar, a narrow residential street off Jalan Tanjungsari IV in West Surabaya. The monkey stops near a wooden bench occupied by a woman holding a baby, and two young children. The primate then leaps off the bike, pulls a toddler off the bench, then snatches and drags the child down the road for several meters.
Onlookers call out to the handler, at which point the monkey releases the child, who stands up and runs away. Local reports said the handler then beat the monkey with a gamelan mallet.
The toddler, who was still young enough to be wearing a diaper, suffered abrasions to the forehead and shock.
Indonesian netizens criticized the handler for beating the monkey, arguing it is wrong for monkeys to be enslaved and used as entertainment for humans.
Australia’s Channel Nine television network, which tends to prefer sensational over cerebral content, shared the footage of the incident on its Instagram account but failed to explain that it was street entertainment gone wrong. This lack of information prompted some Channel Nine viewers to comment the monkey had likely been trained to steal children, who would then be sold or molested.
East Java’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency banned topeng monyet shows in 2018, as training can involve torture and mistreatment, while performances can increase the risk of transmission of diseases from animals to humans.
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