Vietnam: Monkey Island draws ire from rights groups for animal abuse

The animal circus on Monkey Island reportedly continues to this day. Source: Shutterstock

ANIMAL rights groups – backed by a growing number of online petitioners – have decried the continuing maltreatment of monkeys as circus performers at a Unesco-accredited national park in Vietnam. 

At Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve, monkeys in chains are forced to perform various stunts like riding a bicycle, swinging, pulling a mini-rickshaw and walking on a bar, among others.

Known for its vast mangroves and as a popular tourist destination in the industrialized Ho Chi Minh area, Can Gio hosts the “Monkey Island,” where monkeys are supposed to be protected, but in reality were subjected to different form of cruelties.

Besides monkeys, dogs are also made to jump through flaming hoops at the Monkey Island circus.

Hong Kong-based non-government organization Animals Asia noted animal cruelty still persists on Monkey Island despite exposing the abuses late last year.

“This is the only (circus) I’m aware of inside a national reserve, which is more commonly associated with conservation and species protection,” Dave Neale, who investigated the animal cruelty on Monkey Island last year, said in a statement.

Neale, Animals Asia’s animal welfare director, asserted the monkeys’ forced performance in a circus within a wildlife reservation contradicts the values advocated by Unesco, a United Nations agency that aims to preserve natural and cultural sites around the world that are of universal value.

A few months ago, Animals Asia released a video showing the circus and urging Unesco to take firm action.

SEE ALSO: Behind Thailand’s lucrative animal tourism is a picture of cruelty, torture

Queenie, one of the faces of Animals Asia’s campaign to close the animal circus on Monkey Island, was shown in the video on a leash performing various tricks.

The macaque’s behavior during the performance shows she is fearful of the trainers and experiencing stress due to the unnatural situation in which she is forced to perform, Neale explained.

“Clearly, they have no natural desire to do the tricks expected of them. And that shouldn’t be surprising,” he said.

“These shallow gimmicks are completely unnatural to them.”

Neale described the Monkey Island circus show as tragic. “There is no respect or empathy in such a sorry show.”

One Green Planet, an online platform for the growing compassionate and eco-conscious generation, said the Monkey Island animal circus was “a nightmare for the animals who are forced to perform there.”

“Despite being tasked with protecting the area, and educating the domestic and international tourists who flock to the pristine beauty, the Can Gio management board has chosen to host an animal circus on the reserve,” the platform reported.

Can Gio, through Cu Chi Historical Tunnel Complex, the agency that manages Monkey Island, claimed the circus is for “educational purposes.”

“Through the performances, we are sending the public a message they should respect nature and animals, and that animals are friendly to humans,” it said in response to Animals Asia.

In November 2016, Animals Asia also informed Unesco’s Vietnam office about the reserve’s cruel animal circus.

“The use of animals in circus performances with physical and mental abusive acts should not happen anywhere. This was a violation of bio-ethics and eco-ethics, and was unacceptable, especially at a biosphere accredited by Unesco. It should be completely shut down,” the Vietnam office replied.

That was just in paper, however, as the animal circus on Monkey Island reportedly continues to this day.

Now, the cries to stop animal cruelty on Monkey Island are mounting.

From 15,000 in April, over 30,000 people have signed the online petition today urging Can Gio and Unesco to shut down the Monkey Island circus.

SEE ALSO: Panda-monium – China’s tourism revenues reliant on the cuddly creatures