A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to immerse myself in some of the animal culture of Jogja; I went to the animal market and the Jogja zoo. The zoo was the less emotionally draining of the two. The coolest part was after watching an animal training show (food was the only training bridge and it was evident because all the animals were fatter than they should have been).
They had the orangutan sit on a low tree branch and take pictures with all of the guests. I was one of the last people in line and when I went to take my picture with her she reached out and began poking and scratching my neck. I presume it was just because I was white and —just like many of the people— she wanted to touch my skin. That was one of two of my personal interactions with primates.
The second came with more of an emotional toll. Saturday my host sister took me to the animal market. Preemptively I knew it was going to be hard but I would rather see what cruelties humans commit with animals rather than turn a blind eye towards it. The first animals that I saw at the market was a bunch of baby chickens, except they were all dyed bright colors, pink, green and purple. Then walking through the market stalls I saw many species of birds, each cage was filled to its maximum capacity. There were lots of baby owls, many of which had respiratory and eye infections. One of the cages was filled with flying foxes.
The hardest part for me, and the part I am guaranteed to remember, was all of the baby monkeys. I made an effort to hold each of their hands as I walked around in an attempt to show them some compassion. Each baby desperately latched onto me and their cries made my heart break. As I walked away many of them screamed and shook their cages in agony. All of these babies were stripped off their mothers at such a young age. Because I didn’t see it directly, I can’t know for sure but the most common way that animal trappers catch baby primates is they locate mothers with new horns in the wild then they shoot and kill the mothers and strip the young off of their corpses.
As terrible as it sounds to witness, seeing these animals in pain and seeing how humans commonly extort animals for profit motivates me to want to enact change and make the world just a little better. The pictures that are not from the animal market is one of me standing at the top of Borobudur which was insanely beautiful and tranquil in the early morning.