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Street raiders pounce to end Jakarta's monkey business

Published on Feb 15, 2013 11:44 AM
A macaque nicknamed "Rizal" is chained next to the shack of its handler at a slum district in Jakarta after a day of begging in the streets. Public order officers and animal rights activists have linked up to crack down on widespread cruelty to the animals, referred to as "topeng monyet", meaning "masked monkeys" because of the masks their handlers often force them to wear. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - Squatting near a busy traffic junction in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, monkey-handler Takiadi tugs at the long-tailed macaque at the end of the leash he is clutching. The movement jolts the skinny, apparently playful, animal to stretch out its hands to passers-by and beg for alms.

It is a common scene in the city, but taking up such a visible spot is becoming increasingly risky for shabbily dressed Takiadi, 27, who was born and bred in Jakarta and has been working as a monkey handler for five years.

Days earlier, he narrowly escaped arrest after officers swooped as part of a new push to stop widespread cruelty to the animals.

"Public-order officers appeared out of the blue as I was putting a doll's mask over the monkey's face. I managed to run away, but my monkey was confiscated. I have to be more careful now," Mr Takiadi told AFP, gripping tightly on his new monkey's chain.

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