A RUSSIAN tourist nabbed for smuggling a drugged orangutan out of Bali – hidden in his luggage – faces up to five years’ prison if found guilty.
Andrei Zhestkov, 27, was arrested at Bali’s international airport after quarantine officers found a two-year-old male orangutan sleeping in a rattan basket inside his suitcase, said conservation official Ketut Catur Marbawa.
AFP The orangutan was discovered drugged in a rattan basket, shoved inside a suitcase
He said officers also found allergy pills wrapped in plastic, two geckos and five lizards stuffed inside Zhestkov’s suitcase.
All the animals were alive.
Zhestkov told authorities he fed the orangutan allergy pills mixed with milk, making the animal lose consciousness for up to three hours, Marbawa added.
The Russian tourist also allegedly told officials that he bought the orangutan for £2,200 ($3,000) from a market on Indonesia’s main island of Java after being told by a friend that he could bring it home as a pet.
Marbawa said Zhestkov was “prepared, like he was transporting a baby”.
At first, we thought it was a monkey. We were shocked to find an orangutan.Bali airport quarantine boss, Dewa Delanata
Dewa Delanata, head of the airport’s quarantine office, told The Jakarta Post: “The Russian deliberately used an inhumane method to take the orangutan to Russia.
“At first we thought it was a monkey. The officers were afraid to open the basket, as they thought the monkey would be aggressive and run loose in the departure area.
“When it was taken to the examination room and we opened it, we were shocked to find an orangutan.”
The Russian also apparently had injections and drugs in his bag, which he said he “planned to re-administer the drug when they transited in Korea,” Dewa added.
Zhestkov could face up to five years in jail if convicted.
Orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The Russian was yet to be officially charged because cops were still investigating to see whether there were links to international syndicates involved in wildlife trafficking.
The Bali Natural Resources Conservation Agency is looking after the rescued orangutan.
AIRPORT AGONY Girl, 3, dies after suffering seizure on way home from family Maldives trip CIRCUMCISION DEATH Five-month-old boy dies after parents perform circumcision at home LatestCRUISE FROM HELL Ship battered by giant waves as alarms blast and OAPs winched to safety WarningCHILDBIRTH HELL Mum-to-be, 22, dies in ‘excruciating pain’ when medic rips out her placenta ‘THEY’D BEHEAD US’ ISIS brides RIOT in Shamima Begum refugee camp as guards forced to fire HOME MOAN Brit ISIS doc demands to come home because of ‘what he did’ for NHS
Only about 13,400 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild.
A 2018 comprehensive study of Borneo’s orangutans estimates their numbers have plummeted by more than 100,000 since 1999, as the palm oil and paper industries shrink their habitat and fatal conflicts with people increase.
Last week, a rare orangutan was brutally blinded after being shot 74 times while she tried to protect her four-week-old baby from evil hunters in Indonesia.
Her infant died, as she was unable to feed her baby.
EPA An officer holds the groggy-looking orangutan
AFP A caregiver bottle-feeding the rescued two-year-old orangutan after a smuggling attempt
ANTARA FOTO The primate looks out of a cage at rescuers
AFP Detained Russian national Andrei Zhestkov (centre), who has been accused of smuggling a two-year-old orangutan in a rattan basket, pictured above at Bali’s international airport in Denpasar