Wildlife conservation groups have rescued a chimpanzee, which was illegally smuggled from Kenya into Iraq at birth and kept in a zoo. According to Al Jazeera, Manno the Chimpanzee was smuggled to Iraq where he spent his days posing for pictures and smoking cigarettes handed to him by zoo visitors. While still a baby, Manno was taken away from his mother by wildlife traffickers, finally ending up in a private zoo in the Kurdish city of Dohuk.
Manno’s last home in Dohuk was 70 kilometers from Mosul, the epicenter of the government-led war against ISIS insurgents in Iraq.
In captivity, Manno has been dressed as a child and managed to survive on a bizarre diet of caffeinated soft drinks, sweets, occasional fruits, and cigarettes.
Rescue and Return Home
A group of wildlife conservationists led by Spencer Sekyer and officials at the Project to End Great Ape Slavery (PEGAS) came together to launch an international effort to rescue, rehabilitate, and return Manno to the wild.
Last month, Manno’s journey to freedom culminated with his arrival to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
Conservationists say Manno is expected to remain in quarantine for three months, during which veterinary experts will carry out a number of tests before letting him rejoin other wild animals at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Nanyuki, which is at the foot of Mount Kenya.
Daniel Stiles of the PEGAS foundation, said, “Living alone is not a proper place for a chimpanzee. Chimpanzees, if they’re not in the wild, the second best place is being with a community of chimpanzees in a sanctuary. [One of our aims] is to try and get chimpanzees out of captivity, especially illegal captivity, and into a sanctuary.”
Stiles, a committed anti-wildlife trafficking crusader, says the African chimpanzee population is dwindling rapidly due to them losing their natural habitats as poachers, some of them poor African villagers, capture and sell them for as little as $20 to $50 to networks of international traffickers, who in-turn resell the exotic animals to wealthy private collectors for as much $20,000 on the international black market.