The Pasar Burung (Bird Market) in Malang is located in basically the same street as the Pasar Bunga. It is right next door to the flower market and at a crossing at the end of the street. You could check out both the markets if you are there, but you have to realize that the Pasar Burung is a little more controversial than the Pasar Bunga.
Indonesian people love birds, especially singing ones. Having lived in Indonesia for some time, I often see birdcages hanging outside in front of houses, or kids and adults training and playing with pigeons on city rooftops on late afternoons. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that there are many bird markets throughout the country, and when it comes to Malang, the Pasar Burung is one of the more famous ones.
After visiting the Pasar Burung, I have mixed feelings about this place and this can be credited to the various sellers that you’ll find on the market. Some sellers provided their animals with the proper care and service, while other shopkeepers seemed to exploit these poor animals. Sometimes your heart will break seeing birds in cages that are way too small, or too full, or too dirty.
Now, this might seem weird, but I was also a little bit scared of catching the bird flu. There are literally thousands of birds there in a small vicinity, pooping all over the place with tons of human traffic going on and a lot of garbage. It’s kind of a recipe for disaster, so be careful. Maybe it is a good idea to wear a mouth cover when visiting and bring some sanitizing hand soap.
Besides birds, you can also find all kinds of other animals for sale in this market. There are cats, bunnies, dogs, reptiles, and loads of fish. The fish section was probably my favorite area since I like fish. There are literally thousands of them there. All sorted and displayed in aquariums in a long street of shops. Some aquariums were quite spectacular looking with neatly manicured grass, wood, and other decorations. The only downside is that, again, some practices were a bit animal unfriendly to me. Some fish were hanging in plastic bags or in bottles. I hope they can improve on this situation in the future.
Since the variety of animals on sale is so large, and since my knowledge of birds is lacking, I wasn’t sure if everything was legal there. I don’t want to accuse anyone without the evidence, but at some shops I was really wondering if they had a shady or an illegal business going on. Some of the birds I saw on sale were: chickens, parakeets, owls, kalong (flying foxes), tropical birds of paradise, and so many more. It was quite hard to photograph there since many shopkeepers didn’t take kindly to that.
So, all in all, the Pasar Burung is most definitely a fascinating place, but also a morally conflicting one for me. Even since we didn’t buy anything, I have to admit that I feel slightly guilty over visiting this place. Of course, going there you will find shopkeepers and people that treat the animals with the utmost respect, but others will have feeling sad. It’s a polarizing place, but I think worth a visit.