Is the Monkey Forest in Ubud Bali ethical?

I’m an ethical vegan and I try and choose animal experiences where there is no captivity, no zoos, and they are free to roam in nature as much as possible with little influence from humans.

Before I travelled to Bali in Indonesia, I kept on seeing everyone say that the Monkey Forest is the only ethical animal experience to see. Everyone was saying this! So of course I went.

Afterwards, I had very mixed feelings about it all so I’m going to share the facts with you so you can make up your own mind about what you feel comfortable with.



I had read they are free to roam, and yes they are….if they’re IN the forest. But if you see them outside the forest and going into the village of Ubud, soon enough you’ll notice a forest worker come around on his motorcycle and start using a SLINGSHOT to push the monkeys back into the forest. Here is a quick photo I took on Monkey Forest Rd on a Tuesday morning of a man using a slingshot 🙁



There are “feeding stations” set up in the forest close to the paths so humans can get photos of them. The food is locked in a cage to attract the monkeys and every so often, a small amount is taken out and put on the ground for them. There isn’t enough natural food here to feed all of the monkeys.



They run a Population Control Program which means they bait certain monkeys (adult females and some adult and young males) into a cage where they live in there for awhile and then they are sedated and taken away to be sterilised so they can’t reproduce. This is where I saw the cage with baby monkeys in it trying to get out. After they are sterilised they are tattooed on their chest with a number (see photo below).

Here is a link to a study on how animals can naturally control their own population density.



With all of this information and what I saw when I was there, I really feel that unfortunately these monkeys are being exploited for tourist entertainment and I personally would not go back there.

But now there are so many monkeys living in this forest surrounded by a very busy city and they can’t just get rid of them or allow them to roam into the city because they will definitely get hurt by cars/motorcycles and people. It’s a tough situation that the Monkey Forest is now in and I’m not sure what the answer is.



If you’re looking for true ethical animal experiences in Bali, please visit these rescue centres instead that help the stray cats and dogs of Bali.

Villa Kitty

Located only a 10 minute drive from the centre of Ubud at Jl. Ambarawati No.1 No.320, Lodtunduh Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia, this shelter is open to visitors from 10am to 4pm each day. You can spend time there socialising with the kittens, cats and doggies and learn more about what this amazing place does. On Sundays, they have an awesome vegan buffet and everyone is welcome to come!

Bali Dog Adoption And Rehabilitation Centre (BARC)

Send an email to and book in your Cuddle Time session for doggy cuddles! Open on Monday to Fridays from 10am to 2pm, it’s located 45 minutes from Ubud.

Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA)

Here’s information about volunteering with BAWA –

Keep an eye on their social media accounts as they sometimes put a call out to help with Street feedings and adoption days.


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10 thoughts on “Is the Monkey Forest in Ubud Bali ethical?

  1. Oh girl! I would have never known. Thank you for sharing (and sharing ethical alternatives). I hope you still had an amazing trip!

  2. I’m glad you brought this up. So many people feel because there isn’t bars or cages that it’s ok. If there is someone selling food for the public to feed the animals, then they are being exploited. I visited a monkey hill in Hua Hin, Thailand and it’s very much just a hill in the middle of nowhere that’s been over ran with monkeys, most of the locals have moved out. You can visit these monkeys free, no-one trying to sell you food. The few locals left have set up small food and gift shops to try and earn some money off anyone who visits but the monkeys themselves are completely wild. One mugged my husband for his drink as we were leaving!

  3. I have friends who are in Bali this week and next and today they posted a few photos of these same monkeys. I felt dread at seeing these, thinking these monkeys are being exploited for reason why I don’t want to visit Bali. I would rather see historical buildings than animals. Then your post came up….thank you for what I felt was true.

  4. On the other hand, I know that in many towns I Asia monkeys are a real pest problem. They stop eating the food naturally available to them and start raiding bins etc in the towns. Maybe feeding them is a semi effective way of getting the monkeys to stay in the forests. And although using a slingshot is cruel it’s certainly safer to discourage the monkeys from going into the town at all costs, since the towns are full of cars and mopeds etc (plus monkeys can be unsafe for people, since they bite and carry disease).

    Not saying the forest is definitely ethical or anything like that, I wasn’t the biggest fan of certain aspects and there’s definitely room for improvement. But there are two sides to it and there are pros as well as cons, so it’s not a clear-cut answer. Just my opinion anyway!

  5. Ohh that control cage does not sit well with me! As for feeding them, is there enough habitat with food for them to survive naturally, or is this necessary? I was also going to say the same as Emily above – there could be a lot more problems if they were allowed into the towns, a slingshot doesn’t look great but it may be a necessary deterrent. It’s so hard to know what is right. Really glad you’ve shared this though, it’s an important topic.

  6. Thank you for sharing this. The more I find out, the more I think I should just avoid any animal “experiences” unless they are wild and you are viewing them from afar.

    I mean, the first rule of leave no trace is that you should not feed wild animals…

  7. Ah this is really sad. But thank you for sharing an honest post about it. I’ve read so many different opinions when it comes to this monkey forest. None of them this clear. We will be visiting Bali next year and this one will be struck off the list.

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