PASA and International Alliance of Conservationists Rescue Trafficked Monkeys

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Confiscation of 20 young monkeys is one of the largest in the region

An African monkey resuced from wildlife poachers explores his new home.

A rescued monkey explores the new enclosure.

This is the largest rescue in our 20 year history.

An international group of primatologists led by the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) and including support from San Diego Zoo Global, the Columbus Zoo and GaiaZOO are providing a new home for 20 monkeys that were confiscated from wildlife traffickers. The monkeys all appear to be young and suffering from malnourishment and stress, and represent several species native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The confiscation is one of the largest seen in recent years, and reflects the crisis in criminal trafficking hitting Africa’s native wildlife.

“This is the largest rescue in our 20 year history,” said Gregg Tully, Executive Director of PASA. “The monkeys were poached in DRC and then driven along a known route for traffickers. We’re grateful that authorities in Zimbabwe confiscated the animals. Otherwise, they would be sent to China or a tourist attraction, with no possibility of being reintroduced to the wild.”

Since the monkeys were confiscated in September of 2020, PASA’s goal has been to return the young primates to their native country where they can be placed in an accredited sanctuary. The group collaborated with the leaders of Jeunes Animaux Confisques au Katanga (J.A.C.K.), a PASA-accredited sanctuary in Lubumbashi, DRC, that has experience caring for and rehabilitating chimpanzees. The animals have now arrived at the sanctuary and are busy exploring their new enclosures, a step up from the small cages they were kept in while in captivity. The long-term goal is to re-wild these individuals which include L’Hoest’s monkeys, putty-nosed monkeys, golden bellied mangabeys, and blue monkeys. The monkeys are being given appropriate medical care at J.A.C.K., and assessed for their readiness to return to the wild. To accommodate such a large group at one time, the team determined that new facilities needed to be constructed.

“We’ve created state-of-the-art enclosures for these monkeys,” said Franck Chantereau, president and founder of J.A.C.K. “Thanks to the funding we received, we were able to move quickly and we’re excited about these new facilities, but we aren’t taking anything for granted. Too many lives are on the line.”

San Diego Zoo Global, the Columbus Zoo, the Olsen Animal Trust, GaiaZOO and other partners responded to the immediate need by providing funding for the enclosures and ongoing care of the group of youngsters.

“Our organization is very involved in the effort to stem the tide of wildlife trafficking,” said Dean Gibson, Curator of Primates, San Diego Zoo Global. “We regularly provide refuge for wildlife that have been confiscated in the United States. Although it has been a difficult year for our organization due to COVID closures when I alerted our leadership to the plight of these young monkeys they thought it was important for us to contribute to their rescue.”

San Diego Zoo Global supports work with communities in Cameroon’s Ebo forest with efforts to both protect primates and their forest.

“We have been working with local communities in Cameroon for years to promote forest health and protect the gorilla and chimpanzee populations that call the Ebo forest home” said Megan Owen, Ph.D., Corporate Director of Wildlife Conservation Science, San Diego Zoo Global. “Understanding that we need to restore species and protect ecosystems in order to have a healthy world is important to us.”

About PASA
Created in 2000, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) is the largest association of wildlife centers and sanctuaries in Africa, with 23 organizations in 13 countries. Each Alliance member is securing the future for Africa’s primates by rescuing and caring for orphaned and abused apes and monkeys, protecting endangered primates from extinction, working to stop the hunting of endangered species and the cruel primate pet trade, educating the public, and empowering communities. PASA International unifies the Alliance and advocates for them on an international scale, provides vital support, and works closely with them to raise awareness globally about threats to wildlife.

About San Diego Zoo Global
As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to over 1 billion people annually, reaching 150 countries via social media, our websites and the San Diego Zoo Kids network, in children’s hospitals in 12 countries. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible with support from our incredible donors committed to saving species from the brink of extinction.

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Jean Fleming
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