picture of the day

Balancing act

35 Comments

A monkey walks on stilts to entertain visitors at the Zojoji Buddhist temple in Tokyo.

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35 Comments
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I wonder how many times he had to be hit before he learned how to do that?

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Disgusting

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I hate these guys, animal cruelty at it's worst, do you naturally think the monkey is enjoying himself and what happens if he doesn't do what he is told.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Despicable.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

This has to be a monkey hell. If he could only use the stilts as weapons, beat his master, and escape.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I know these people treat and love their monkeys as family members. Japan has long tradition of this monkey show, Sarumawashi.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

God I thought this crap was outlawed.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I've had days when I felt just like that animal must feel.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Things to do at a Buddhist temple: contemplate universal karma, the noble truths and the eternal soul... watch a monkey on stilts.

Maybe those taking the pictures can contemplate rebirth as the monkey.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Oh, Tinawatanabe, you're not trying to pretend this is some kind of venerable Japanese culture shtick, surely?

This is barbaric, nothing more than that. in civilised countries it is outlawed.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Everyone's so alarmingly and cynically quick to assume animal cruelty and judge the owners guilty. There's a bar in Japan which has monkey waiters the reason being that the monkeys taught themselves to serve after watching the owners and mimicking their actions. Positive reinforcement via food treats later and those monkey now serve beer and towels to patrons. No beating or coercion involved at all.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

might not be everyone's cup of tea but not barbaric either. all you animal lovers, how did you stop your dog or cat crapping inside? chewing your shoes? and myriad other types of behaviour? a little bit of chastisement is not necessarily cruel. Like many venerable traditions our values have moved on (whalemeat anyone??) but doesn't mean they are all evil.....

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

all you animal lovers, how did you stop your dog or cat crapping inside?

The dog - by putting him on a peepee sheet/outside at regular intervals during the day (on wakening, before and after eating, after playing etc etc.) and reacting with praise and treats and generally good things for pups when the required result was obtained and ignoring mistakes, cleaning them up with the pup wasn't watching. The cat - her 4-legged mama taught her how to use a sandbox before she was weaned. Once she was big enough to jump up onto the toilet, I rigged up a sandbox (using flushable litter) inside the bowl and gradually reduced the amount of litter until she was happy using just the toilet - again, praise and treats and good things for kitties in response to success, a quiet clean-up on the very few occasions she made a mistake.

chewing your shoes?

Put the shoes away, make sure there are plenty of chew toys that are more fun than shoes.

and myriad other types of behaviour?

All by means of positive training, mainly using a clicker. Works wonders and is much more fun than playing the heavy with a pup or kitty.

a little bit of chastisement is not necessarily cruel.

But why use even a little bit of chastisement when positive methods produce better results and are more pleasant for all concerned?

I don't know how Mr. Monkey was taught to walk on stilts for the amusement of the general public - I tend to feel that monkeys belong in the wild, not in entertainment troupes - but I hope positive methods were used.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Everyone's so alarmingly and cynically quick to assume animal cruelty and judge the owners guilty. There's a bar in Japan which has monkey waiters the reason being that the monkeys taught themselves to serve after watching the owners and mimicking their actions. Positive reinforcement via food treats later and those monkey now serve beer and towels to patrons. No beating or coercion involved at all.

So, this monkey must have taught itself to do this after watching the owners and mimicking their actions. The owners wore collars and a leash because they were into a weird kind of BDSM public humiliation stilt fetish.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Stilts are easy for Japanese monkeys. Trainer says that monkeys learn it soon. But monkey would never learn it if trainer forced it how to do. There is kind of secret to teach.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

you're not trying to pretend this is some kind of venerable Japanese culture shtick. This is barbaric, nothing more than that. in civilised countries it is outlawed.

I'm not pretending anything. Do the people in the picture look like pretending something? Japan considers these monkeys auspicious, and sees this in old days on New Year Day. Long tradition. You should spend time with them before jumping to a wrong conclusion.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Wakarimasen... puppies learn quicjkly where to do the toilet until they are old enough to go outside and do it. As for chewing shoes, we gave our puppies squeaky toys and chew toys for when they are getting their adult teeth. No beatings are needed, no smacking, spraying with water or stuff like that... treats for when they do well, and coaxing when they don't.

Dressing monkeys up and having them perform tricks belongs in the past. There's a ban on all wild animals performing in circuses coming into effect in England in 2015, though sadly not in other parts of the UK... yet.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Readers, please keep the discussion focused on the monkey and not puppies or other animals.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tinawatanabe: "Do the people in the picture look like pretending something? Japan considers these monkeys auspicious"

So it treads the sacred and auspicious as a circus act? because that's what it is. There's nothing 'sacred' about what this animal is doing at all, nor how it's being treated.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Thunderbird2 In your country, you do birdshooting, which late Diana hated so much. Why don't you stop that before critisizing this and that of Japan.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

smith, Those monkeys are not doing a circus act. They are doing the same old simple traditional acts using traditional Japanese tools like Japanese fans or Japanese balls or Japanese bamboo stilts, etc. Japanese are not expecting the monkeys to do any difficult acrobatic or circus acts. We just feel comfortable watching the same old traditinal acts, nothing new, nothing exciting. Just peaceful same old moment.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I found this comment on a Youtube video of (the same?) monkey:

"Before anyone claims animal cruelty, I found out later that this woman and her monkey were staying at my hostel. After Interacting with them, I can honestly say I have never seen a person have such a strong, and loving, bond with their animal before."

But haters are gonna hate.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

"Those monkeys are not doing a circus act."

Yes, they most certainly are. Instead of a monkey holding out a cup for tips, though, the temple or shrine that allows the circus act get a bit more in their donation box for the show. They should offer popcorn or something. Again, nothing 'sacred' about putting up a monkey on stilts for show to the public. Nothing at all.

"Just peaceful same old moment."

I'm not sure advocating animal cruelty as a national past time really says much for the nation in question, nor the poster.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Tina, just because it's a tradition doesn't mean it's right. When I was in Kamikochi in May I saw monkeys in the wild, and it was the most amazing thing for me... seeing a monkey dressed up like that and performing for the crowd while held by a leash is just terribly sad. It's like a performing bear in Russia or India...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Monkeys on stilts already I feel closer to god, if I could I'd vote inbred LDP members into power..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Point taken that animals can learn thru both positive and negative reinforcement. why then is everyone so quick to assume this monkey was only taught to do this trick thru cruelty?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Point taken that animals can learn thru both positive and negative reinforcement. why then is everyone so quick to assume this monkey was only taught to do this trick thru cruelty?

Some of the animals that have been seized in countries where the practice is banned showed signs of physical abuse. Some of the owners were less than caring about the animals' welfare, only caring about the money made from passers by and people who thought it was cute. I rate it alongside the poor old donkeys forced to allow masses of people on their backs as they trudge up and down a beach...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Probie point taken and I apologize for sounding cruel even stupid but I was neither condoning nor condemning this particular instance rather I was giving an example (perhaps not the best) to convey the point that not every instance of trained animal behavior is based on negative reinforcement or cruelty but that positive training exists as well. And that we shouldn't be so quick to judge and condemn, though on closer inspection of this picture I am now a little concerned by what looks like a string tied to what is possibly a collar. But I'm not going to outright condemn this since most of us do the same with pets.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

From what I remember, what those monkeys do is walk, stop, pause, bow, or use taiko, Japanese drum. Only the owner's narrations give meaning to the moves. The narrations are of old Japanese language from the samurai era. Monkey's costumes are also often from samurai era.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Monkey makes money for risking his or her life. Cruel and heartless boss enjoyed monkey labour. Monkey is used to be slaves during the Edo era. Japan needs the liberation of monkeys as the movie of planet of Apes.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Monkeys belong in their natural habitat - NOT on stilts.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Not only is the monkey walking on stilts, he's wearing a shirt and shorts!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japan needs the liberation of monkeys as the movie of planet of Apes.

You are watching the movie too much. It would never happen that way. I think not only Japan but also other all countries need that, because humans are cruelly killing all kinds of animals for money and many have been exterminated by humans advantages and selfish arrogances.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Disgusting. How third world can you get?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Yea the monkey has to work it's butt off but it gets regular food, medical care and a longer domesticated life. Not that different from humans doing basically same thing. As long as there's no animal abuse.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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