Indonesian Animal Rights Activists Protest Sloth’s Role in ‘Aladin’ Soap Opera
Ismira Lutfia & Zaky Pawas
Animal welfare groups lodged a formal complaint with the Jakarta Police on Monday, alleging that a television show had exploited a protected Sumatran sloth in one of its episodes.
Irma Hermawati, who represents the groups, which include ProFauna Indonesia, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network and the Animal Friends of Jogja, filed a complaint against MNC TV and MD Entertainment, the production house behind the soap opera “Aladin.”
The groups were angered by an episode that aired on June 28.
“In one scene a sloth was tied up, thrown and pulled violently,” Irma said.
The Sumatran sloth is a protected species in Indonesia and keeping or trading it is illegal. That is why the groups suspect that the show’s producers acquired the animal illegally.
“It is time that TV shows that exploit wild animals be stopped because they are teaching the wrong message,” Irma said.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said, however, that the police were not authorized to investigate the charges because they fell under the jurisdiction of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI).
Irma said the groups had already filed a complaint with the KPI. They were adamant, she added, that the network and the production house not only violated broadcasting laws but also committed a criminal offense.
An earlier investigation by ProFauna revealed that each month dozens of Sumatran sloths were illegally sold to buyers in Jakarta.
Sloths are often sold openly in Jakarta animal markets, including the Pramuka and Jatinegara markets in East Jakarta, with little enforcement by the authorities.
The group has criticized other TV shows, including “Petualangan Panji,” “Gadis Petualang” and “Steve Ewon Sang Pemburu,” all of which are modeled on the popular “Crocodile Hunter” series that starred the late Steve Irwin.
In the shows, the hosts wrangle a variety of wild animals, including snakes and crocodiles. The shows have also been reported to the KPI since January, but no actions has been taken.