Tuesday, September 05, 2006

4 Smuggled Gorillas Will Go Back to Cameroon

The Pretoria Zoo has belatedly agreed to return four smuggled western lowland gorillas to their birthplace in Cameroon, ending a 28-month South African stopover that had been assailed by wildlife experts as flouting international conservation accords. The gorillas, known as the Taiping Four, had been smuggled out of Cameroon and sold to the Taiping Zoo in Malaysia in 2002, but the zoo agreed to give them up after conservationists exposed the deal. Although an annex to the international endangered species treaty specifies that smuggled animals be returned to their original home, Malaysia shipped the gorillas to Pretoria, which opened a state-of-the-art gorilla exhibit for them in May 2005. The zoo’s director, Willie Labuschagne, argued that the gorillas would be slaughtered and sold for meat should they be returned to Cameroon, but relented, citing “the political protocol involved in this case.” The four will be repatriated to Cameroon’s Limbe Animal Orphanage.

Story here.

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