Trafficked Chimp Leaves Iraq for New Kenya Home

A young chimpanzee smuggled across Syria to northern Iraq three years ago was on his way to a sanctuary in Kenya Wednesday after three years in a private zoo.

The four-year-old chimp, known as Manno, was trafficked from central Africa in mid-2013 and sold to a zoo in the Kurdish city of Duhok for $15,000, said Jason Mier of Animals Lebanon, the NGO that facilitated his transfer.

He said that Manno had never had any other chimpanzees to interact with, would have to be caged as an adult and lived with "people who really had no knowledge of how to take care of a chimpanzee."

Mier said there had been a proliferation of ape trafficking to the Middle East, with an alarming number of cases in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait.

The conflict in the region has also made it easier for traffickers to operate, he said.

"Even in Lebanon we've seen more and more animals coming from Syria, you have open borders and lots of people moving across the borders," he said.

The United Nations' Great Apes Survival Partnership says hundreds of apes are trafficked every year, to meet demand mostly from China and the Gulf.

The most trafficked apes are orangutans, followed by chimpanzees, both endangered species.

The U.N. warned this year that selfies shot by celebrities with baby apes in restaurant gardens, hotels and private zoos in Dubai and elsewhere were harming efforts to enforce the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Source: Agence France Presse

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