A Russian tourist who wanted tried to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Bali has been arrested.
Andrei Zhestkov was detained at the Denpesar airport on Friday while trying to pass through security screening. When screening officers opened his luggage they found a two-year-old male orangutan sleeping in a rattan basket.
Russian Tourist Arrested Trying to Smuggle Orangutan Home as Pet
His bag also contained blankets, baby formula, 2 geckos and 5 live lizards. The 27 year old appeared to be prepared for the flight with the ape.
“We believe the orangutan was fed allergy pills which caused him to sleep. We found the pills inside the suitcase,”
Bali conservation agency official I Ketut Catur Marbawa told AFP Saturday.
Zhestkov told authorities that the orangutan was gifted by his friend, another Russian tourist who bought the primate for $3,000 from a street market in Java, Indonesia. He claimed that his friend convinced him it was fine to take the orangutan home as a pet.
There are only 100,000 orangutans remaining in the world and are a critically endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Workers and villagers often see the primates at pests and sometimes will attack them. Another threat has come from poachers who capture the apes to sell them as pets at markets.
If found guilty Zhestkov is could face up to 5 years in prison and $7000 in fines.