Monkey Rehabilitation Project : Off the Streets and Back to the Forests

Who we are

Animal Friends Jogja [AFJ] is a non-profit, non-funded group of animal loving friends who have been undertaking animal rescues, education, humane population control, adoption, advocacy for better laws and conditions for animals, and campaigns to end the animal abuse that is evident in most levels of society in Indonesia, in particular for the city of Yogyakarta (or Jogja as the locals call it).  AFJ is self-funded with financial and other donations from friends, family and members of the community who care about the animals around them.


What we do

In addition to our education, population control and advocacy work, we currently run two halfway houses for domestic animals that have been rescued and are in varying stages of rehabilitation, recovery from injury/illness or simply awaiting for adoption to new forever homes.  Members have donated land to house the cats and dogs who are uncaged (except in recovery/quarantine stage), and free to roam about our large enclosed yards.  Our staff members live on site so the animals are cared for as closely as possible to a real family home situation, to get them used to living in domestic situations and ready for adoption to new forever homes.


From Domestic to Wild

Since AFJ began in 2009, and more so after Merapi Volcano erupted, we have rescued various wild animals, including slow loris, native forest cats, eagles, turtles, long tailed macaques, apes, and snakes, which we handed over to various organizations that rehabilitate and release wild animals.  We only kept rescued wild animals for short periods while awaiting transport to these centres.  But this all changed this year when we were faced with having to accommodate a non-domestic animal as no one would take the Long Tailed Macaque we’d rescued.


Long Tailed Macaques are listed as Appendix II CITES – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) related to species that, although not currently threatened with extinction, might become so unless their trade is strictly regulated.   As they are not strictly regulated now, these wild animals are open to exploitation thus increasingly more cases are being reported to AFJ, leading to the necessity to take in wild animals, in particular macaques.


Mario’s Story

In early 2013, we received a report of a Long Tailed Macaque (Macaca Fascicularis) that was being kept on a short leash near a busy intersection in a water drainage area without food or water the entire time.

When our volunteers arrived to investigate, not realizing they were from AFJ, the owner showed how tough he was by kicking and hitting poor Mario (the name given by Ariani, the woman who reported Mario’s situation to AFJ), and gave him a lit cigarette and tried to force poor Mario to smoke it, all the while laughing and showing off.

7 Mario being forced to smoke by ex owner

Mario had previously been trained as a masked dancing monkey (please read but had grown aggressive and was no longer useful as a way to make money anymore so he was being left to die.  Mario’s tail had already been cut off, sold for medicine.

1 Mario chained in drain

After witnessing this terrible treatment first hand, AFJ decided that Mario had to be removed from the situation.  By threatening to report the owner to police under Indonesian Criminal Code 302 on animal abuse (a newly revised law that AFJ has been heavily campaigning for), the owner became worried and AFJ rescue volunteers were able to call in a vet to subdue Mario and take him back to our base camp in the forest south of Yogyakarta.

6 Mario and Ex Owner

10 Dr Andre using blow pipe to anaesthetise Mario

13 Using plyers to free Mario

We expected to be able to transport Mario as soon as possible to an organization for rehabilitation, but no one could take him.  The organizations we usually handed wild animals over to, indicated that they are at maximum capacity and could no longer receive any more macaques.

16 Mario in travel cage to clinic


18 Blood being taken for Hepatitis and other tests 20 Mario Blood Test Result Negative

AFJ is now rehabilitating Mario and hoping to release him to a safe habitat in the near future.  When he first came to live at the half way house, he was very distressed and confused.  He would frequently have fits, biting and hitting himself and crashing into his temporary cage and at other times would just sit in a small space unmoving appearing depressed.  Now, with the help of our fantastic staff members, Mario is relearning how to be a real monkey again, being taught to forage and make a nest in leaves and branches, and also learning how to eat food fit for a monkey after years of being fed scraps.

22 Volunteer built enclosure of wood and bamboo 25 Volunteers building enclosure while Mario watches

21 At AFJ Mario eating fruit while bamboo and wood enclosure is built


Mario of the chain and into his first bamboo and wood enclosure Old enclosure eaten by termites Termites have eaten the wood

What we need

The bamboo and wood structure we built when he first arrived was temporary as we had hoped to have him for just a short time, but he lived there for over half a year.  Before it fell down, AFJ decided to try and raise funds for a more stable and larger enclosure that would house more than one macaque in readiness for more incoming rescued animals.

Old enclosure and foundations for new enclosure Tyo cutting bamboo for monkey food challenge tubes Tyo putting up a used tyre for a monkey swing Monkey enclosure enrichment activities Old and New Enclosures

We were able to raise US$1.800 of the targeted US$3.900 we would need to complete the rehabilitation project that is able to house up to 5 macaques. ( see  )

Indiegogo Perks ready to send

After consultation with primate experts, learned that it will be impossible for Mario to be released alone as he will have great difficulty coping without a family group.  This means that AFJ will have to receive at least 4 more macaques in order to rehabilitate them and release them as a group as 5 is the minimum number of macaques needed for a social group to be released to the wild to have any chance of survival against any rival groups in the area.

Mario has now been moved into the new enclosure and we are currently starting the second stage of the enclosure.  We still need more funds as the total will come to around US$3.900 (not including additional carers, medical and relocation expenses).  If you would like to donate funds or materials, please go to the donations link on this website and specify Monkey Rehab in the reference line.

Moving Mario to New Indiegogo Funded Enclosure


Mario's first day in the new enclosure Creative ideas to challenge Mario to forage for food

We need to complete the construction of the primate enclosure as soon as possible as the dancing monkey street performers are flooding the streets of Jogja after Jakarta’s governor fully backed the confiscation of all dancing monkeys from the streets of Jakarta earlier this week.  If our campaign succeeds to pressure the Sultan of Jogjakarta to take similar action, we can expect to be adding to the number of macaques in our rehabilitation facility very soon.

Primate Rehabilitation Enclosure

The Planned Rehabilitation Enclosure

The initial plan is to build six enclosures in one block that can house up to 5 macaques or other primates. The first stage of two enclosures has been finished to rehouse Mario and have an empty enclosure to be used on rotation for cleaning.  With the help of one of our fantastic volunteers who has just graduated as an Architect, a suitable plan was drafted and the second stage is under construction now.

The foundations of the first stage have been laid draining our building fund (AUD 500 for cement, reinforcement steel, rock, sand, and trades person fees – labour was free from our hard working volunteers.)  We are now in need of building materials to create the structure and enrichment for Mario and the new macaques to be rescued.  We really hope that you will support our endeavours to return these abused animals to their rightful place in the wild.

Construction costs :

*iron piping cost USD 700

*wire mesh cost USD 1,700

*supporting materials and enrichment cost USD1,000

*tradesworker fees USD500

*rustproofing paints cost USD 300

* building tools and equipment (brushes, wirecutters, etc.) USD 300

*labour USD 0 (free volunteers)


Estimated Ongoing costs :

* Confiscation / capture – USD 50 – 100 per macaque (depending on numbers, size, location and distance)

* Complete Blood and physical checkup –  USD 100 per macaque (approx)

* Veterinarian monitoring costs USD 25 per week @ 2 visits per week (approx)

* Enrichment – old bicycle/motorcycle tyres and inner tubes USD 0 ; mature fruit seedlings/replantable fruit trees; USD 500

* Food costs USD 20 per macaque per week (approx)

* Carer wages USD 30 per carer per week (approx)

* Relocation to new habitat costs USD 300 -500 per macaque (depending on numbers, size, location and distance)

* Ongoing monitoring/medical/food costs if required (as above)


The Impact

AFJ has received increased reports of macaques being abused or abandoned in and around Jogja.  People buy them from the local animal market as small cute babies, but as they get older their teeth grow and they become more and more frustrated with their captivity, usually in small cages or on short chains, being fed rice and other non-suitable foods.  This makes them very aggressive and owners end up abusing them – removing their teeth, hitting and kicking them to try and tame them, and/or release them in forests that cannot support them, and they end up going into villages to search for food often being shot or beaten and killed, or even worse,  injured and running off to die.

In addition, there has been an alarming increase in wild animal exploitation in the form of Topeng Monyet (Masked Monkey Street Performances), which are flooding into Jogja from Jakarta after another animal welfare group, JAAN (Jakarta Animal Aid Network) together with the local government, confiscated dozens of Long Tailed Macaques from their tortured life performing on the streets.  With laws tightening in Jakarta, which is around a 12 hour drive from Jogja, our city has become a new target area for Topeng Monyet.


Apart from campaigns and advocacy to strengthen the laws on animal abuse, this program is just one small step towards getting these tortured animals back into the forests they came from, or if they’ve been felled, to other safe habitats.

There are currently 3 macaques waiting on rescue and we need to help them as soon as we can so they can begin socialization, trauma rehabilitation and learning wild monkey behaviour again.

If you hava a love for animals, please help us to provide a solution for the street monkeys.  You can be a major part of this campaign by donating to our campaign and remember, every cent counts and will help to provide a way back to freedom for these tortured monkeys.

No amount is too small…

If you can’t contribute financially

You can still help by spreading the word and increasing the campaign’s visibility!

  • Share the macaque rehabilitation project with friends and family who may be interested in supporting our campaign. 
  • Share this blog with anyone interested in animal rescue.
  • Post this campaign link on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, and other social media platforms. 
  • Give a presentation for community groups, schools, or social groups.  We can provide you with a presentation, short film and a lesson plan, or if you are in Yogyakarta we can come and visit your group.

All of these actions will go a long way to making this macaque rehabilitation project a success!



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