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Nikko Saru Gundan September 27, 2006

Posted by urbanblue in Adventures.
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The monkey pitThe ducks

About three months ago I sent an email to “Monkey World” in Dorset, which is an ape rescue centre. The email was about a dreadful tourist attraction in Nikko (Tochigi Prefecture) called Nikko Saru Gundan (Nikko Monkey show). In this attraction the monkeys are placed in a concrete pit, and guests are invited to buy bags of nuts and fruit which they throw into the pit. Some of the monkeys were rocking back and forth or going around in circles, and several were missing large clumps of hair on their backs and head. There is a large pile of rocks in the pit for the monkeys to climb and there is a concrete pool of water, but there are no trees or bushes inside.
However, Nikko Saru Gundan‘s main attraction is the monkey show itself, which is held four or five times a day in an indoor auditorium. The monkeys are dressed in costumes, and are made to perform various tricks, such as jumping through hoops, ducking out of the way of fake swords or walking on stilts. While on the stage the monkeys wear chains around their necks, attached to which is a rope which the trainer holds. The monkeys did not look at all comfortable on the stage, in fact most of them looked in quite a lot of distress. The trainer would actually smack the monkeys over the head if they did not perform as he wished, and the look of terror on the monkeys faces when this happened was extremely harrowing. Several of them were defecating on stage on a frequent basis presumably in fear.
This show is extremely popular, and is well known throughout the region. The place also has a collection of ducks, which are made to wear tight plastic collars and race around a track. I’ve included a couple of pictures above, but they really don’t show the conditions as they truly are.
Ellie from “Monkey World” replied today. She said that there is nothing they can do to prevent further abuse of these animals. Hardly surprising. Ellie writes, “Sadly there is usually very little we can do about legal, official zoos as they are supposed to have undergone and passed various standards by the local authority in order to gain Zoo status. Unless we can prove that primates have been smuggled from the wild, the conditions themselves are not illegal. Also the use of primates and other animals for “entertainment” is still legal in most countries.

That being said, Monkey World urges me to write directly to Nikko Saru Gundan and to the authorities that oversee the zoo to express my disgust at the treatment of the animals. Obviously I can’t post their address on this blog in order for you all to do the same. But typing Nikko Saru Gundan into a search engine might provide you with that just as efficiently….

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