It looks like a kidnap attempt but it is not. It was street entertainment gone wrong.
The Truth Behind Those Videos of Monkeys Riding Tiny Motorcycles
There’s a horrible backstory to that viral video of a moto-riding monkey dragging a toddler, but maybe not the one you’d expect.
08 May 2020, 3:25am
Some Indonesian news outlets confirmed that the incident happened last Saturday in Surabaya, the country’s second largest city, and that it wasn’t an attempted kidnapping but “street entertainment gone wrong.” The monkey and its little motorcycle are part of a widespread performance called topeng monyet, which translates to “masked monkey” because most of the time, the trained monkeys wear tiny masks that are made from dolls heads.
In the viral video, the monkey’s handler is standing at the top of the screen in the opening seconds, and the monkey has a cord or a thin chain visibly tied around its neck. When the animal veers too close to the people who are sitting on the bench, the handler yanks the chain, and the monkey grabs whatever’s closest—which happens to be a small child.
In the most chaotic sequence, the monkey loses its grasp, tries to run from the handler, and latches onto the kid again before both of them are dragged down the alley by whatever restraint the monkey is attached to. (In a longer version of the video, the handler appears to send the monkey in the opposite direction first, and can be seen winding the cord up before sort of ‘casting’ the animal down the alley; topeng monyet don’t ride their little bikes as much as they’re just propelled by momentum.)
Alleged eyewitnesses to the incident said that the child suffered some “trauma” and had some abrasions on his or her forehead. They also said that the monkey was collected by its handler and promptly beaten with a mallet that one of the musicians had been using. And yes, this is awful.
Just over a decade ago, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) started an in-depth investigation into topeng monyet as a first step towards banning the practice. The organization has also spent years trying to educate the public about what happens to young macaque monkeys after they’re caught, tortured (and in many cases, physically disfigured) to learn their ‘tricks,’ and then forced to perform for tips.