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Latest update: 17 January 2023

I love learning about other cultures, but there are some things I would rather not have known. For example, in Bali, I sometimes watch with horror how animals are treated. Monkeys, bats, birds, and other animals are poorly treated as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

Nature conservation and animal welfare

A beautiful piece of jungle… full of plastic bottles.

A vast beach… with pieces of glass everywhere.

A quiet country road… with plastic bags on the side of the road.

Unfortunately, the people of Bali are not always aware of the natural beauty of their country or nature conservation. There is also still room for improvement in animal welfare. And, of course, tourists also play a role in this.

Monkey watching in Bali

I visit the Monkey Forest near Ubud and also the one in Canggu. Nearly 700 monkeys live in the first, and as many as a thousand in the second. Both are crowded, and tourists go to great lengths for the best photo. They challenge and tease the monkeys, grab them, and the guards don’t say anything to keep them from doing so. In Ubud, the monkeys seem a little bit better off than the ones in the concrete park in Canggu. This is because, in Ubud, they live in a beautiful jungle-like forest. But secretly, I like the forest more than the monkeys.

Monkeys in Ubud's Monkey Forest

Picture-taking with bats

Bats also live in the Monkey Forest in Canggu. They are huge! They all hang from a few branches at a central spot in the park. My suspicion is that they have been drugged. I can’t imagine them voluntarily coming to a rest where so many tourists gather and take pictures with them. The tourists get dressed up in traditional clothes and sit on a chair. Then the attendant rather roughly pulls a bat from the branches. He spreads the bat’s wings, and the tourist holds it with a smile. Two Balinese children are doing the same a few meters from this horrible display. Time to move on.

Balinese children with a bat

Street dogs in Bali

As a street dog, you are not lucky in Bali. If you can’t go to a friendly owner, you will have to work hard to get your food. Many dogs are covered in mange and scratch incessantly. Fortunately, several organizations are active on the island to sterilize the dogs and provide them with the necessary help, such as BAWA.

A turtle gift bag

Brightly colored fish in a bottle, turtles in a small bag, and colorful birds in a tiny cage. Parents love to give these critters as gifts to their children. Not to care for but to play with for a day or two or three. If the animal even lasts that long because they are actually doomed to die quickly. The birds used to be a kind of plague for the rice crops. Parents therefore have little problem with their martyrdom. The animals are for sale on the market.

Hell for wild animals

Bali has a lot of parks where you can see, pet, or take selfies with wild animals. That is not good for the animals. So think carefully about whether you want to participate in something like this. When in doubt about animal welfare, it is better not to do it. You can learn more about it at World Animal Protection.

More Bali inspiration

Useful links for your Bali trip

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First published: April 2017. Updated since.

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