There is a market in Denpasar, Bali called Pasar Burung, which means bird market in Indonesian. It gets its name due to the copious number of birds sold there, however they are not the only animal species that can be found at this market. This unique, interesting and illegal place consists of two adjacent streets lined with outdoor shops, where the animals are openly displayed to the public. What makes this market so unusual is the number of different kinds of animals it consists of.
When wandering down the short streets, one would find animals ranging from beautiful Persian cats (which are most definitely not seen roaming Bali otherwise), to more peculiar animals such as Owls, Hedgehogs, Pythons, etc. Each of these animals are for sale, prices ranging anywhere from 10.000rp (10 USD), to 600.000rp (60 USD) depending on the size and uniqueness.
The animals that inhibit Pasar Burung are not treated well by any means. They remain chained up or caged day and night, and often times appear to be on the verge of death, sick, or extremely weak. The Monkeys are chained to cages, hanging by their necks. The beautiful cats are too weak to meow. The Chicks are dyed colors with toxic chemicals that bring death much closer. The market sells an animal called a Luwak, which produces expensive and elite coffee, and I once came across one that was lying dead in its cage, unnoticed. This reality is heartbreaking, as these animals should not receive such mistreatment. However the market continues on, and often times the truth of this injustice is masked by the fascination with the variety of rare and intriguing species.
From my experience conversing with the shop owners, most of these animals are brought over from Java (another Indonesian Island close to Bali). Stealing is another way in which these people attain such animals; especially the rich-bread Dogs and Cats, which makes the illegality of the market more serious. However it is hard to say how and why the shop owners acquire their animals, and the legalities of the market as a whole, as much information is hidden from the customers and passersby. Although this market remains incredibly different and interesting, there is a very sad side to it all, that one may not recognize had they not been there themselves.
It is rare to have the opportunity to hold a baby Owl or Luwak, or stroke and Iguana, as these animals are not usually domesticated, so it becomes riveting and exciting to experience something like that, and that is the attraction. Although this reality should become clear, and something should be done about the mistreatment and domestication of these fascinatingly wild and natural species.
Please watch the video linked to this article written by Pim Pettibone about Pasar Burung: