“Please stop animal cruelty” head of UNESCO urged to act over Vietnam site

14 November 2017

Growing alarm as monkeys bound at the neck are forced to ride bicycles and perform acrobatics in daily shows at UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve.

Global animal welfare charity Animals Asia has appealed to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova to step in to stop the exploitation of animals at a UNESCO-designated site in Vietnam.

The request was made in an open letter to Ms Bokova on November 9 during UNESCO’s Biennial General Conference in Paris and written after previous appeals to the UN agency to end animal performances at the Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve yielded little action.

One of Animals Asia’s many concerns is that the macaques held captive and forced to perform for entertainment at Can Gio may have been poached from the wild.

In its letter, Animals Asia recalled Ms Bokova’s comments made on World Wildlife Day 2017 about the increasing number of crimes against wildlife over recent years and the devastating impact it had on all species.

In her comments, Ms Bokova called for a new commitment by everyone to prevent crimes against wildlife and promote justice.

“Director-General, we very much believe you when you call for a new commitment by everyone to prevent crimes against wildlife and promote justice in order to create the kind of sustainable future our planet and all its species so desperately need,” Animals Asia said in its open letter.

“As you are well aware, any exploitation and outright cruelty towards wild animals that takes place on a UNESCO-accredited site will be seen by millions of people around the world as condoning the abuse. We don’t believe this is this is the message you want to send.

“Please end it.

“As you have said previously: ‘The future of wildlife is in our hands -- now is the time to act’.”

Animals Asia began its campaign to end animal exploitation at Can Gio in 2016 after discovering monkeys being forced to ride bicycles and dogs forced to jump through flaming hoops as entertainment for visitors to the site.

Nearly 40,000 supporters around the world have signed Animals Asia’s petition calling for the performances to be scrapped, appalled by footage of chained and blindfolded monkeys.

One macaque, nicknamed Queenie, had clearly visible wounds on her face and was seen self-harming as a way of coping with her constant fear and stress.

When first informed in 2016 of the animal performances taking place at Can Gio, UNESCO’s condemnation was swift and unequivocal.

“This was a violation of bio-ethics and eco-ethics, and was unacceptable, especially at a biosphere that was accredited by UNESCO, and should be completely shut down,” UNESCO’s response read.

But a further investigation by Animals Asia confirmed that as of October 8, 2017, the performances continue.

Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“We welcome Director-General Bokova’s commitment to taking crimes against wildlife including wild animals seriously. It’s our belief she is sincere in her desire and based on that belief, we hope she will address our concerns about animal exploitation at Can Gio quickly.

“There is nothing educational or cultural about animal performances anywhere, let alone at a facility that is associated with a UN organisation which embodies both. To allow these performances to continue sends completely the wrong message to the whole of Vietnam - a country struggling to reign in wildlife crime.

“Now is the time to act.”

You can help end the cruelty, sign the petition today and tell UNESCO and Can Gio to end the suffering and stop forcing macaques to perform.

macaque "carrying water"