BBC exposes global network of monkey torture

News : BBC exposes global network of monkey torture
Baby long-tailed macaque, photo: Canva

Long-tailed macaques are tortured and killed for entertainment, a year-long investigation by news agency BBC revealed, exposing a horrific, global network of monkey torture stretching from Indonesia to the United States. 

The BBC found hundreds of customers in the US, United Kingdom and elsewhere paying people in Indonesia to torture and kill baby long-tailed macaques on film. Police are now pursuing the buyers, and several arrests have already been made.

These gruesome videos are being spread on private groups on the encrypted messaging app Telegram. BBC journalists went undercover in one of the main Telegram torture groups, where hundreds of people gathered to come up with extreme torture ideas and pay people in Indonesia to carry them out. Baby long-tailed macaque monkeys were abused, tortured and sometimes killed on film.

The BBC tracked down both the torturers in Indonesia and distributors and buyers in the US. One of the main distributors in the US agreed to talk to the BBC and said it went from “baby bottle teasing to fingers being snipped off.”

At least 20 people are under investigation globally, including three women living in the UK and a man from the US. Police in Indonesia have arrested two men for animal torture.

Special Agent Paul Wolpert said everyone involved from law enforcement had been deeply shocked by the nature of the crimes: “I don’t know if anybody would ever be ready for a crime like this.”

Anybody involved in buying or distributing the monkey torture videos should “expect a knock on the door at some point,” he added. “You are not going to get away with it.”

“We’ve seen an escalation in this extreme, graphic content, which used to be hidden but is now circulating openly on platforms like Facebook,” said Sarah Kite, co-founder of animal charity Action for Primates.

Kite called for UK laws to be updated to make it easier to prosecute individuals who pay for torture videos to be made. “If someone is proactively involved in inflicting that pain by paying for it and providing a list of things they want done to the animal, there should be stronger laws to hold them to account,” she said.

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