VICTORY! Cruel monkey circus at UNESCO facility shut down as a result of Animals Asia campaign

24 April 2018

UNESCO-accredited facility in Vietnam is forced to end macaque circus in a major blow to the country’s animal performance industry.

The Can Gio Biosphere Reserve in Vietnam has announced it has ended a controversial macaque performance after a landslide of public criticism sparked by Animals Asia.

The move is a major blow to Vietnam’s animal performance industry which will no longer benefit from an association with prestigious international organisation UNESCO which accredited the reserve.

Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director, Dave Neale said:

“There is still widespread confusion in Vietnam about what constitutes animal cruelty and the fact that a UNESCO-accredited facility hosted a macaque circus really muddied the water for a lot of people.

“UNESCO’s actions were sanctioning the confinement, humiliation and exploitation of animals for entertainment so it is crucial that their backing has been removed from an industry mired in serious animal abuse.”

Footage taken by Animals Asia in 2016 revealed blindfolded macaques forced to ride bicycles and cowering in fear from the ringmaster’s whip during performances at the biosphere.

In October 2016, Animals Asia wrote to UNESCO regarding the cruelty and received a reply in November from the UN body which said:

“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.”

However, it took another 18 months and a petition signed by nearly 43,000 people around the world for the shows to finally end.

Deputy Director of the Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, Le Van Sinh said:

"We received feedback from Animals Asia and the public against the use of wild animals and came to realise that it is both unnecessary and inhumane to treat animals this way.

“We asked the Ho Chi Minh City's People Committee and the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to stop the circus. The city government recognised the negative impact on the city's tourism and decided to have the circus closed down."

However, while the closing of the circus is important in terms of ending animal abuse in the country, it will likely not mark the end of the suffering for the individual macaques used in the show.

The macaques abused in the circus belong to the Long Phu corporation, a private company specialising in animal performance.

The company hosts animal performances featuring macaques, elephants and bears in the tourism hotspot of Nha Trang and following the closure of the Can Gio circus, the macaques will return to their owners and likely continue to perform.

Dave said:

“Vietnam is very much at a crossroads in terms of animal performance. The industry could die out as the country develops and people seek modern and cruelty-free forms of entertainment – or it could expand and become an entrenched industry if companies see potential profit and choose to invest.

“Our aim is that there be nowhere for animal performance cruelty to hide in Vietnam. It must be pushed to the absolute margins so that people, government, organisations and companies have nothing to gain from entertainment at the expense of animals.”

An Animals Asia investigation in 2017 revealed that at least 200 macaques are forced to perform across a dozen or so entertainment parks, zoos and tourist attractions in Vietnam.

Following the closure of the monkey circus, the Can Gio Biosphere Reserve plans to redevelop the circus area as a public education centre on the area’s Vietnam War history.