Primate Rescue Center

Chilling Photos Show What Happens To Baby Apes Stolen From Their Families

Erika Fleury December 15, 2015

Sometimes an exposé reveals a seedy secret world of animal exploitation and makes a huge splash. And sometimes a dark world of horrific exploitation is hidden in plain sight.

A quick look online reveals a terrifying truth about the lives of orphaned great apes, who are being illegally bought by wealthy people in the Middle East who want to dress them up and keep them as pets. "Almost all of these animals have been captured as infants from the wild, and been bought online," the Ol Pejeta Conservancy wrote in a press release provided to The Dodo.

Ol Pejeta has started the Project to End Great Ape Slavery (PEGAS) with support from the Arcus Foundation, which seeks to develop a better understanding of the illegal trade in great apes by investigating websites that advertise apes for sale or display photos and videos of great apes as pets.

PEGAS collected the photographs in this article from online sites open to the public.

All great ape species are listed under Appendix I of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), an international agreement that is supposed to ensure that international trade of animals and plants does not threaten their survival. This means that any commercial trade of these animals is illegal.

Illegal — and also horrifically wrong. According to Ol Pejeta:

The demand for great apes as pets, entertainment props, or for display in private zoos in the Middle East is fueling the large scale wild capture of infants in the forests of West Africa and Indonesia. In order to capture young chimpanzees, hunters kill the mothers and often the rest of the troop as well. Many of these infants die en route to their selling destination, as a result of rough handling, cramped transport conditions, stress and dehydration.

One such case was a baby chimp known as Little Doody.

Little Doody was discovered in the Cairo airport being smuggled into a plane bound for Kuwait.

Even though PEGAS offered to relocate him to a sanctuary, the Egyptian CITES office did not respond to the offer.

Little Doody was brought to the Giza Zoo. He now lives in a cage.

- The Dodo

All images are courtesy Ol Pejeta / The Dodo

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