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Chimfunshi Press Release

Release Date: March 30 2001

Qatar Chimps Return to Africa after Seven Month Ordeal

CHINGOLA, ZAMBIA - Two baby chimpanzees that were found stuffed inside a cardboard container at a Qatar airport last September arrived today at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia, ending a seven-month ordeal that involved top government, security, conservation, and zoo officials.

The chimps, a 10-month old male and a 20-month old female, reached Zambia after a two-day trek that included stops in Dubai and England. They were met by Chimfunshi founders David and Sheila Siddle, who will allow them to adjust to their new surroundings before introducing them to the other chimps in the nursery.

"It's hard to believe after so long that these chimpanzees finally have arrived," said Sheila Siddle. "At times, I had almost given up hope. For two such young chimps, they've certainly been through a lot. But we believe that with a lot of care and attention, they will grow up to be wonderful, happy chimps."

The chimpanzees, which were discovered on September 10 by an alert customs official at the Doha Airport after he saw a cardboard container shift slightly, were apparently being smuggled from West Africa to the Middle East, where young chimps are still prized as pets. The chimps were seized by Qatar's Supreme Council for Environment and Nature and held temporarily at the Doha Zoo. Only the intervention of the International Primates Protection League (IPPL) - represented by Dr. William George, Kathy Bader and Valerie Molyneux in Qatar -- and the efforts of Dr. Khalid Al-Ali, Qatar's Secretary General for Environment and Nature, allowed for the successful transfer of the chimps back to their native Africa.

"I am delighted that these babies are back home in Africa," said Dr. Shirley McGreal, president of the IPPL. "But, sadly, their mothers are dead, shot by poachers. We have to identify the smugglers and get them sent to prison to protect other chimps from such horrible fates as these babies endured."

The chimps' relocation costs were covered through generous donations from the IPPL and the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care, along with discounted travel fares from Emirates Airlines. In addition, the Primate Conservation and Welfare Society has made a donation for their long-term care.

These chimps are the 85th and 86th residents of Chimfunshi, which has cared for injured and unwanted chimps since 1983. Each is allowed to recover before joining ad-hoc family "groups" that roam the sanctuary's 13,000 acres in central Zambia.

For more information, please visit the Chimfunshi website or contact:

Brenda Santon
Friends of Chimfunshi (South Africa)
27-136-909-368
adoption@mweb.co.za

Doug Cress
Chimfunshi - USA
1-609-497-4608
SBCress@aol.com

International Primates Protection League (IPPL)
1-843-871-2280
ippl@awod.com

Primate Conservation and Welfare Society (PCWS)
1-360-379-5564
info@primates-online.com

Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care (CCCC)
info@savethechimps.org