Denpasar’s infamous pet market. On a small square of maybe 200 sq m, a lot of so-called “pets“ are offered for sale along the streets. Held in cages, you will find mostly birds, but also small rabbits, guinea pigs and even puppies that are waiting (probably begging) to be bought and released from their current situation.
Be warned, visitor, these animals are being held in a way that is far from humane. Lovers of animals may want to avoid even stumbling across this place. It is not a happy sight. Visiting, for this writer at least, did offer some insight into some local cultural traits.
You will know when you are getting close to the ‘bird market’, as the sound of thousands of animals fills the air. Western tourists are unlikely to be around – this market is truly a part of the “old” Bali, where holding birds was once seen as a status symbol, a sign of wealth and good fortune; a cultural trait that has continued to this day, unfortunately.
As a westerner, my heart broke when I realized the situation that most of these animals were in (and still are in). For example, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of birds, the exact number is impossible to count, all in one cage. Something my European eyes had never seen before and an indescribable sound that was also new to my foreign ears.
If anything, Pasar Burung shows the stark difference between Indonesian and Western perspectives. Pasar Burung, in perhaps the view of someone in the area, can be seen as a colourful and lively spectacle, whilst it might just be a cruel violation of animal rights to those foreign to such a concept. Both views, whether we like it or not, have their own rights: one at least under a traditional perspective and the other under a more modern view. Who are we to deny a people of their traditions?
The temptation for me was of course to buy one bird (or however many my budget could allow) in order to release them. Although, this would only be a short-term solution as my purchase would only further incentivise the market’s very existence…
Denpasar, you really are killing me!
Part 3: Pasar Burung