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In September 2001, Egyptian authorities at the Cairo Airport confiscated an infant gorilla and chimpanzee from a woman attempting to smuggle them from Lagos, Nigeria. Instead of securing the babies safe refuge in a specialized primate rescue center, authorities in Cairo drowned them in a vat of chemicals!

A baby gorilla, similar in age to the poor baby who was drowned in Cairo


Below is additional information about the baby drownings and a sample 'Letter to the Editor'. Please also consider printing IPPL's petition at Ask your friends and family to sign the petition and return completed copies to IPPL, or to the addresses noted on the petition. More information about the drowning of the baby apes is available at IPPL's web site at

Thanks to the ever-diligent and persistent efforts of the International Primate Protection League's Chairwoman, , the horrific deaths of two infant apes - a baby gorilla and chimpanzee - recently smuggled out of Nigeria are not being forgotten!

Resulting from IPPL's widely-disseminated media advisory, appended below is a news article which was published in Nigeria's The Guardian on 8 October 2001.

Please consider taking a few minutes of your time to write a 'Letter to the Editor' to The Guardian to encourage more excellent reporting of endangered species' issues, as well as helping to keep this particular travesty alive in the minds of the relevant authorities and the public. It is too late to do anything to save these two individual baby apes, but it is crucial that we do all we can to prevent the same from happening to other individuals.

Please note that there were several excellent primate sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers in Africa (including Limbe and Pandrillus) which would have happily accepted these two babies -- if only the Egyptian officials had bothered to make a phone call, the fate of the two little apes could have been entirely different.

A 'sample' letter is appended below the text of the news article. 'Letters to the Editor' of The Guardian can be sent to or to the following:

Editor: Debo Adesina

P.M.B. 1217 Oshodi, Lagos, Nigeria

Monday, 8 October 2001
By Chineda Uwaegbulam

Following the controversial drownings of the primates, concerned local and foreign conservation bodies are blaming the Nigerian government for not putting in place the required machinery for the species' protection. They are also calling for an official protest to Egyptian authorities over the atrocity.

Global criticisms have trailed last week's reported drowning of a baby gorilla and a baby chimpanzee that were flown to Cairo airport from Nigeria without permits for endangered species.

Their owner, who said they were her pets, brought the gorilla and chimpanzee from Lagos. Airport veterinarians feared the primates might have carried diseases that could spread. They drowned the animals in a container filled with chemicals because of the risk that contaminated blood could spill if they chose another method of eliminating the primates.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, permits are required for the import, export and trade of gorillas, chimpanzees and other endangered species. Cairo airport officials had argued over what to do with the two primates. Veterinarians wanted to kill the gorilla while wildlife officers wanted to give it to Giza zoo. The zoo, however, does not have an enclosure for gorillas.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), medical doctors, virus experts and veterinarians strongly condemned the cruel killing of the two innocent animals belonging to highly endangered species. Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) berated the Federal Government for not putting the needed machinery in place for the protection of endangered species in the country.

According to NCF executive director, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, "it is something that happens often because our laws are weak. We have Decree 11 of 1985 that is supposed to protect trade in endangered species which is faulty. There is no will among government officials to implement this decree."

He revealed that in most big hotels and international airports, there is a section that is for the sales of goods from endangered species, which is not right, "Our neighbors - Ghana and Cameroon - have banned trade in gray parrot but Nigeria has not."

Dr. Aminu-Kano added that while the government goes ahead with setting up machinery for the review of Decree 11 of 1985, they should implement the existing laws to ensure that endangered species are protected.

Another group, Journalists Network for Environmental Conservation (JOUNET) demanded a probe into the cruel killing of the primates. JOUNET urged the Nigerian government to press for the trial of the veterinarians by the Egyptian authorities. The group's director of campaigns, Mr. Mohammed Abu said investigation should be carried out to bring to book any Nigerian involved in the smuggling of the baby gorilla and baby chimpanzee.

JOUNET believes that government agencies at the [small portion of hard copy fax from Africa is illegible - completed text will be posted as correction] on the implications of their actions. Mr. Abu pointed out that a lot of public awareness is needed to ensure that every citizen becomes a watchdog to save endangered species.

The International Primate Protection League (IPPL), an international organisation with 16,000 members in 80 countries, is outraged at the drowning of the animals. "IPPL would have been happy to help arrange for the return of these apes to a sanctuary in Nigeria if only we had been asked," according to Dr. Shirley McGreal, chairperson of IPPL.

"We request Nigerian authorities to protest strongly to Egyptian officials against this atrocity and to attempt to identify and punish any Nigerian national involved and the airline which carries the animals to their death," IPPL said.

Both the gorilla and the chimpanzee belong to highly endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES to which both Egypt and Nigeria belong; as well as Cameroon, the country where the infant apes might have been captured. Gorillas and chimpanzees are humans' closest relatives in the animal kingdom. They share over 98 per cent of human's genetic structure. Because of the high commercial demand for these species, mother apes are often shot for their babies.

Dr. Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama, a world famous expert in the study of viruses carried out by African apes states, "I find the drowning totally unjustified, irrational and utterly appalling. There is no scientific or public health reason for these killings."

For Dr. Eliot Katz, a veterinarian and president-founder of In Defense of Animals, "we would have gladly offered to accept both babies for care and possible rehabilitation. All things considered, there was no reason for these little apes to be killed and as a veterinarian, I am appalled that any person who is supposed to be a qualified veterinarian would kill innocent animals with cause."

To Jean Swingle, "as a veterinarian, I think killing these infant apes should only have been considered an option if they had been gravely or terminally ill and their deaths would have been necessary to prevent them from suffering. If this had been the case, they certainly should have been euthanized in an acceptable manner which allowed for quick and painless death. Death by drowning is neither quick nor painless."


'Sample' letter

To: The Editor, THE GUARDIAN

Dear Editor,

Thank you for printing the Monday, 8 October 2001 article by Chineda Uwaegbulam regarding the recent controversial drownings of a baby gorilla and chimpanzee in Cairo.

I applaud 'The Guardian' for giving such excellent coverage to endangered species' issues, as well as helping to keep this particular travesty alive in the minds of the relevant authorities and the public. It is too late to do anything to save these two individual baby apes, but it is crucial that we do all we can to prevent the same from happening to other individuals.

If the Nigerian authorities had adequately enforced Decree 11 of 1985 which intends to provide protection to wildlife, or if CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species] regulations had been enforced, the two infant apes would not have left Lagos airport. As such, the entire travesty resulting in the needless deaths of two endangered apes could have been prevented.

It is time for Nigeria to champion the cause of protecting all wildlife and raise the standards by which all African species are treated. I hope the drowning deaths of these two apes will bring to light the need for Nigeria to implement a complete ban on wildlife trade. It is only with a complete ban in place and enforced that wildlife which Nigeria should be jealously proud of will truly be protected.


[Your complete name and address]


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