[monkeywire] Rare gorillas heading for Pretoria Zoo

Josh Greenman joshg1973 at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 3 13:02:12 EST 2003


Rare gorillas heading for Pretoria Zoo 
December 3, 2003

By Melanie-Ann Feris

New residents are swinging their way the Pretoria Zoo. The animal home is to get four
western lowland gorillas from Malaysia.

It is suspected that the four youngsters, dubbed the Taiping Four, were orphaned when
their parents were killed for bushmeat in Cameroon. They were later flown out of
Nigeria's Lagos airport to the Taiping Zoo in Malaysia in 2001. 

The rare gorillas were apparently sent to Malaysia on an exchange programme between the
zoological gardens of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and the Taiping Zoo. 

According to the International Primate Protection League (IPPL), they were tipped off
when the animals had arrived in Malaysia and told they had arrived from Nigeria. The
organisation contacted Malaysia's wildlife department, who confirmed that a male and
three females had been imported.

But on hearing about the dubious origin of the animals, a permit issued to the zoo to
import two more gorillas was cancelled.

The IPPL received documents confirming the animals were exported on what appeared to be
authentic export documents by the Ibadan Zoo. The permits described the gorillas as
having been captive-born in the zoo. 

But the organisation learned that the zoo has only one elderly female gorilla - the male
died several years ago.  

Zoo employees later said the gorillas had come from Cameroon. Gorillas are listed on
appendix 1 of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, which bans
commercial trade in the primates.

When it was discovered that the gorillas had been exported under dubious means, Malaysian
authorities indicated that the animals would be confiscated. 

Both Nigeria and Cameroon had indicated they would be prepared to take back the animals.

Andile Ncotsa, deputy chairperson of the National Zoological Gardens, said that when the
animals became available, they applied to Malaysia to consider Pretoria Zoo as their

The zoo has one gorilla, and it is hoped the four will eventually breed. 

Ncotsa said there were between 200 and 250 western lowland gorillas left in the world.
The Taiping Four are expected to arrive in South Africa within the next few weeks.

But not everyone is happy that the gorillas will be sent to SA.

The IPPL, who wanted the animals returned to Cameroon or Nigeria, expressed their doubts
that Pretoria Zoo was the perfect place for them to go, as three of the zoo's four
gorillas had died. Two babies born at the zoo had also died before reaching the age of
one month.

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