A Russian tourist has been jailed after attempting to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Bali, Indonesia last Thursday, July 11, claiming he wanted to keep it as a pet.
28-year-old Andrei Zhestkov was passing through a security screening at Bali’s Denpasar airport last March on his way to his flight to Russia. However, he was detained after officers stopped him and opened his luggage.
There, they found a two-yearold male orangutan sleeping inside a rattan basket. Officials believed the ape was drugged with allergy pills before being placed inside the basket, which also contained baby formula and blankets.
Zhestkov was sentenced to a year in prison and was ordered to pay 1 10 million rupiah (US$700) fine or serve two additional months inside the prison.
Two live geckos and five lizards were also found inside his suitcase. Zhestkov claimed a friend of his, also a Russian tourist, gave him the geckos and lizards that cost US$3,000 from a street market in Java. Geckos and lizards are known to be protected species in the country.
He added that the same friend of his convinced him that he could take the orangutan as a pet.
Orangutans are listed as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Oftentimes, plantation workers, farmers, and hunters often attack the animals, because they are considered as pests or could be sold as a pet.
Just last year, four Indonesian men were arrested after killing an orangutan with an air gun.
There are only 100,000 of them left worldwide.
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