Russian man caught attempting to smuggle orangutan in luggage

Clay Curtis
March 25, 2019

"We found pills inside the suitcase", the head of Bali's Conservation Centre, I Ketut Catur Marbawa, told AFP news agency.

Local authorities quoted the Russian as saying he had been gifted the young orangutan by a friend, another since-departed Russian tourist, who purchased the animal for $3,000 (€3,600) at a street market on Indonesia's main island of Java.

"(Zhestkov) seemed prepared, like he was transporting a baby", he added.

They searched his bag and found the two-year-old sedated orangutan in a wooden basket, which had been wrapped in clothing.

Andrei Zhestkov told officials after he was detained while trying to board a flight on Friday that he was given the primate by a friend who had purchased it for $4000.

The 27-year-old also packed baby formula and blankets for the orang utan, Marbawa said.

A two-year old male orangutan, which a Russian citizen attempted to smuggle out of Indonesia, Antara Foto.

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Mr Zhestkov claimed he had bought the orangutan for $4,200 and was trying to take it back to Russian Federation as a pet, according to a spokesman from Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.

The Russian could face up to five years in prison and US$7,000 in fines for smuggling, Marbawa said. Some of the species are endangered and all are protected.

Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, they are often found wild in the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

However, airport officials also found other animals in his luggage, including two tokay geckos and four chameleons.

Orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

A string of fatal attacks on the apes have been blamed on farmers and hunters.

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