TAIPING: The four baby gorillas which were illegally sourced from Nigeria by the Taiping Zoo will be “surrendered” as soon as possible.
Taiping Municipal Council president Datuk Jamalludin Al Amini Ahmad said arrangements were being made with the Wildlife and National Parks Department to have the animals transported out.
Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding had said that the Cabinet had approved the decision to send the baby gorillas to the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in Pretoria under a bilateral co-operation programme.
On September last year, the International Primate Protection League (IPPL) claimed that the primates were illegally bought from a Nigerian at a cost of US$1.6mil (RM6.08mil) which contravened the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species in which both Nigeria and Malaysia were signatories.
However, sources here said the council had only spent about RM300,000 to bring the four baby gorillas here, inclusive of transport charges but excluding the cost of maintaining them since their arrival at Taiping Zoo in February last year.
On Tuesday, Law said that he was convinced that the zoo knew that the baby gorillas were illegally sourced, adding that the controversy had tarnished the country’s image as a member of the convention.
Law had said that some parties had deliberately misled him into approving the import permit for the animalsand had asked the zoo to provide a full report on its transaction with Nigeria.
Wildlife Department director of the Law and Enforcement division Misliah Mohd Basir said the permit to import the animals was issued as the department had been led to believe that the animals were not caught in the wild.