BALI – Authorities from the Natural Resources Conservation Agency say they have arrested a Russian tourist who was attempting to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Indonesia’s resort island of Bali.
Ketut Catur Marbawa from Bali province’s conservation agency says 27-year-old Andrei Zhestkov was captured late Friday at the airport after an X-ray found the 2-year-old male orangutan in a rattan basket inside his luggage.
Marbawa said Sunday that customs officers also found allergy pills, two geckos and five lizards in the man’s suitcase. All the animals were alive.
He said that Zhestkok told authorities he deliberately fed the orangutan allergy pills mixed with milk, causing the animal to lose consciousness for up to three hours.
The 27-year-old also packed baby formula and blankets for the orang utan, Marbawa said.
Police also found two live geckos and five lizards inside the suitcase.
Zhestkov told authorities that the protected orangutan was given to him by his friend as a gift, another Russian tourist who bought the primate for US$3,000 (S$4,050) from a street market.
He claimed his friend, who has since left Indonesia, convinced him he could bring the orangutan home as a pet.
The Russian could face up to five years in prison and US$7,000 in fines for smuggling.
Orangutans are a critically endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with only about 100,000 remaining worldwide.
Source: Straitstimes, New York Post