Naree, a chimpanzee who was a victim of the illegal wildlife trade, was safely rehomed to UK rescue centre Monkey World in the early hours of Wednesday 9th October 2018.
Naree, also known as Natalie, was smuggled from Africa and transported to Thailand as part of the illegal wildlife trade. Estimated to be 20-25 years old, the female chimpanzee has been under the care of the Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation since the Thai authorities seized her in 2003. She had been living alone at a government wildlife captive breeding centre in Thailand. Due to past mistreatment as a result of the illegal trade, Naree cannot be released back into the wild. The move to Monkey World will, however, allow her to live among her own kind again.
General Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment in Thailand, pushed through the move of the chimpanzee to UK rescue centre Monkey World, on the eve of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London.
Pinsak Suraswadi, Deputy Director General, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said
“We are pleased to partner with the British government to tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade. The wellbeing of wildlife after confiscation is also an important factor in the aftermath which we must consider. I am happy that Natalie has a chance to be with her own kind.”
In July, General Surasak agreed with the British Embassy in Thailand to send Naree to a UK rescue centre Monkey World, where they could provide her with a family of her own kind and care for Natalie for the rest of her life.
Andrew Beirne, Economic and Prosperity Counsellor at the British Embassy in Bangkok said
‘The UK Government is committed to countering the Illegal Wildlife Trade, which threatens the world’s most endangered species and funds international criminal gangs. We were pleased to be able to support the rehoming of Natalie to Monkey World as part of our broader partnership with Thailand on this issue.’
Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre assists governments around the world to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild. To date the centre has assisted 27 governments in this mission. Monkey World specialise in the care of chimpanzees and rehabilitating victims of illegal wildlife smuggling. Here, Naree will join 53 other chimpanzees living in four groups at the centre, most of whom have been rescued from the black market wildlife trade.
Monkey World Director, Dr Alison Cronin said
“I first met Naree, now named Natalie, in 2003 when she was working in a circus show at an amusement park in Thailand. She had all her teeth knocked out and her face was deformed. She was dressed up and trained to pull an orang-utan and a tiger around the circus ring in a rickshaw. It was a desperate, tragic sight. I called out to Naree with chimpanzee calls and she came over to me at the side of the ring. We were desperate to help her but the amusement park would not let her go. It is amazing that after 15 years Monkey World is finally able to give Natalie a family of her own kind and specialist care. Wildlife trafficking is a global problem that needs addressing on an international scale. We are pleased to work with the Thai authorities, Thai and UK CITES offices, Love Wildlife Thailand, and the Jim Cronin Memorial Fund for Primate Welfare & Conservation to support conservation globally and to give Natalie an adopted family that she needs and deserves after being stolen from the wild all those years ago.”
Departments of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) in both Thailand and the UK spent months collaborating with the Thai authorities, the British Embassy and Love Wildlife Foundation Thailand to arrange Naree’s move to Monkey World, the UK ape rescue centre. As chimpanzees are classified as endangered by CITES and are threatened with extinction in the wild, the movement of chimps is only permitted in special cases. In this case, chimps are not native to Thailand and so both CITES’ departments agreed Natalie could move to live with others of her own kind at Monkey World.
Love Wildlife Foundation Thailand Director, Nancy Gibson said
“Love Wildlife met Natalie four years ago and since then have been looking into ways to give her a better life. As her country of origin in Africa was unknown and due to her past abuse and the removal of her teeth, she was unable to be returned to the wild. I consider it very fortunate for Natalie that she will have a chance for a happy life with a new family at Monkey World and am very grateful for all the support of the DNP and British Embassy to make this a reality for one chimpanzee”
After completing her health checks, Naree boarded a British Airways flight to the UK on the 8th October, with Monkey World’s Director Dr Alison Cronin and Animal Director Jeremy Keeling on hand to care for Naree throughout the 26 hour journey. Landing safely in the UK, she was transported to the Dorset centre where she is settling into her new home, and has already met a member of her new chimpanzee family, Lulu, who was rescued from a Cypriot circus.
The rehoming of Naree comes as global leaders and wildlife conservationists assemble in London on the 11th -12th October for the fourth Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, aiming to help eradicate the black market trade in endangered species. General Surasak Karnjanarat is attending, along with an extensive Thai delegation, in what they believe is a vital step in worldwide wildlife conservation.
Naree’s move to be with a new chimpanzee family in the UK would not have been possible without the help of Love Wildlife Foundation, a non-profit organisation supporting wildlife conservation in Thailand, the Jim Cronin Memorial Fund, a UK charity supporting primate welfare and conservation, and British Airways, who transported Naree on the 13 hour flight to her new home.