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Three orphaned chimpanzees held hostage for six-figure ransom

Three orphaned chimpanzees held hostage for six-figure ransom

"They had all been given a second chance, but now this fresh horror"

Three orphaned chimpanzees have been stolen and are being held at ransom for a six-figure sum in what is described as the first chimp-napping case of its kind.

Shocking 'proof of life' footage was shared by the sanctuary they were snatched from in the Democratic Republic of Congo showing the three primates trapped in a brick wall room.

One chimpanzee, named Monga, can be seen with her hands tied above her head while the other two – Hussein and César – run to hide from their captors.

J.A.C.K. Primate Rehabilitation Centre posted the clip on Twitter, with owner Franck Chantereau describing the footage of his 'three babies' as a 'nightmare' situation.

Frank, who co-founded the Lubumbashi-based sanctuary with his wife Roxane, spoke with The Times about the ongoing incident – and while he didn't say how much the kidnappers were asking for, he revealed it's 'six figures'.

"You can see how terrified they are," he told the outlet, adding that the ransom money is not an option for them. "That would put all the world’s apes at greater risk than they already are."

Monga, Hussein and César, who are between the ages of two and five, are among the numerous primates rescued by J.A.C.K. after being orphaned by the illegal animal trade, which sees people paying huge sums of money for rare species.

What's more, there has been growing demand for chimps as pets and performers, with babies selling for approximately £10,000 on the black market.

Under CITES regulations and laws, chimpanzees are classified as an Appendix I species, meaning the trade of the animals and body parts of them are completely banned except in rare cases such as scientific research.

J.A.C.K. is able to give rescued animals a second chance at life – partnering with the DRC Environment authorities, confiscated primates are handed over to the sanctuary for rehabilitation and future release.

César had only been at the centre for a few weeks before he was snatched from his new home, alongside the other two chimps seen in the clip.

Chantereau went on to say: "They had all been given a second chance, but now this fresh horror."

As for the poor creature who was tied up, he said: "Monga is strong and probably tried to bite them. A grown chimp can kill a man." 

Since launching the sanctuary in 2006, the owner said the illegal animal trade has 'become a war' due to the sums of money that can be gained, with all of its primates now under armed guard.

Commenting on context of the situation, Florence Teneau of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation told The Times: "These shelters receive a lot of aid and funds from international associations, like ours, and the traffickers take advantage of this, because the animals become all the more precious."

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Featured Image Credit: J.A.C.K. Primate Rehabilitation Centre

Topics: Animal Cruelty, Animals, World News, Crime, Money