With the proliferation of social media and increased digital connectivity around the world, it’s no surprise that we always besieged by screens blaring something. Often, that something isn’t conducive to lifting our moods. Quite the opposite. After all, as everyone instinctively knows, bad news sells.
So, it’s even more important that we bring you some good news. Today, that news is baby cam footage from the Singapore Zoo of Joyo, a Celebes Crested Macaque.
Joyo was born following the closure of the zoo during Singapore’s Circuit Breaker period. His name means “victorious”. He is the second son of Dewi.
If you think Joyo and its ilk look familiar, that’s because these macaques, which hail from the forests of Northeastern Sulawesi in Indonesia, are world famous. In 2011, selfies of a Celebes Crested Macaque went viral and triggered an unlikely legal battle. The wildlife photographer, David Slater, who set up his equipment to make it easy for the monkeys to take selfies found himself in a four-way legal dispute. To sum things up, companies unrelated to Slater posted the photos and when he objected, invoking the issue of copyright, they were like, “Uh, sorry ah, these photos now public domain, OK? Also not you take one, is monkey take one what. You think monkey can have copyright meh?”
(Ever eager to soak up publicity, good or bad, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) joined in the fray and sued Slater. They argued that the monkey should hold the copyright and accordingly, the proceeds from the photos.)
His legal woes aside, Slater’s work had the benefit of drawing the world’s attention to the monkeys – and their preservation. Celebes Crested Macaques have faced sharp population declines for the last few decades, due to a variety of reasons, like shrinking habitats, being hunted for meat and also the illegal pet trade. They currently listed by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Critically Endangered, which they define as “at extremely high risk of extinction in the wild”.
Because of that, the Singapore Zoo has been supporting Selamatkan Yaki since 2016. Selamatkan Yaki is Indonesian for “Save the Sulawesi crested black macaques”. They were established in 2007 in both the United Kingdom and Indonesia for conducting research, conservation and education that benefits the unique monkeys. Singapore Zoo’s role in this venture has been in the form of outreach and field projects.
What are your views on the great Monkey Selfie Copyright Dispute? Who should have the rights to the photos? By the way, if you’d like to learn more about these charismatic little guys, you can visit Singapore Zoo’s page here on Celebes Crested Macaques to learn more about them.