Tuesday, April 18, 2006

50 Boxing orangutans may return home after being seized

More than 50 orangutans which were smuggled to Thailand to perform in kickboxing matches may finally return to their home countries two years after the government seized them.

Thailand will hold talks with Malaysia and Indonesia later this week to determine where they should go, the deputy chief of Thai national parks said today.

"During the meeting we will finally decide which country the 54 orangutans will return to," Chawann Tunhikorn said.

Officials from Malaysia and Indonesia will visit the Thai capital on Friday and Saturday to decide the fate of the orangutans.

Thai officials say they were smuggled to the country to perform boxing matches at a private Bangkok zoo.

Thai authorities seized 114 orangutans in raid two years ago on the Safari World zoo in Bangkok's eastern outskirts.

The zoo owner claimed they were bred in captivity, but DNA tests proved 57 were not born in the in-house breeding program but had apparently come from outside Thailand.

The orangutans were trained to fight each other in kickboxing matches for spectators at the zoo.

The government seized the 57 and took them to the Khao Pratap Chang wildlife preserve, where three have since died.

Story here.

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