A planned chimpanzee rescue is thwarted in Lebanon
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2006:
While trying to expose the clandestine chimpanzee traffic to
Cairo, Jason Mier told ANIMAL PEOPLE on February 17, 2006, “I have
[also] been working in Lebanon to get some chimps confiscated. I
knew of two when I went there in January,” he said. “Since then one
more has been found.”
Having arranged–Mier thought–for the chimps to be seized by
the Lebanese authorities and flown “to a sanctuary in South Africa,”
he praised “the complete difference between Lebanon and Egypt.
Lebanon is not a member of the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species,” Mier noted. “They have no animal welfare laws
or regulations for keeping animals, but animals need to be declared
upon entry with the proper customs duty paid. As this did not
happen, the government will confiscate. This has been the most
positive experience possible,” Mier enthused.
By March 6, Mier was disillusioned. “Less than 24 hours
before the confiscation was to take place,” Mier told ANIMAL PEOPLE,
“a Ministry of Agriculture vet called all three owners and told them
that we would arrive that night to confiscate. The three chimps
disappeared. I was investigated by the police and taken to one
police station, as were the local collaborators.
“I am supposedly being sued by one of the owners,” Mier
said, “as he claims he has permits for the chimpanzee, and the
police caused him embarrassment and loss of revenue by coming to his
restaurant, where one chimp was kept as an attraction. This went to
the highest court in the country. The judge ordered for all three
owners to be arrested and held until the chimpanzees’ locations were
known and I safely confiscated them.
“Then the federal police notified the owners. There was no
investigation or arrests. Then it turned out that the judge was
related to one of the owners, and after the owner found this out,
the judge dropped the whole thing,” Mier continued. “So now all
three chimpanzees are still gone, two of the owners say they died
during the 24 hours before the confiscation was to take place, and
they threw the bodies in dumpsters, and the police seem to accept
this. The third owner is the one related to the judge. He still has
his chimpanzee hidden. Quite a demoralizing experience, but I will
appeal the judges ruling,” Mier pledged, “and am planning on going
The episode did produce one happy ending, for a baboon named Lola.
“While assisting an international investigation into
chimpanzee smuggling, one of our rescuers and co-founders spotted
Lola in one of the most ghastly, appalling and abusive pet shops
ever,” Animals Beruit e-mailed on March 23.
“With the help of some brave local people,” and Trevor
Wheeler of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Animals
Beirut obtained Lola and relocated her to the Cefn-yr-Erw Primate
Sanctuary in South Wales, operated by Graham and Jan Garen. She is
housed at the sanctuary with Tom, a baboon Animals Beirut removed
from similar conditions and sent to the sanctuary in January 2006.
Additional funding for the Lola rescue came from the International
Primate Protection League, Animals Beirut said.