A long-time chimpanzee resident of Thailand has left the country for a new life overseas.
The 20-year-old Natalie departed from Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday and into the arms of Britain’s Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre.
“This centre had contacted us via the British Embassy to adopt Natalie,” Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) deputy director-general Pinsak Suraswadi said.
He said his agency agreed to hand over the chimpanzee as the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Secretariat supported the idea.
“A chimpanzee is not an indigenous species to Thailand. When Natalie moves to Britain, she will find an appropriate environment and meet friends of the same species,” Pinsak said.
Police seized Natalie from the Sriracha Tiger Zoo, which is located in Chon Buri province, in 2003. In 2005, the zoo lost several confiscated items after the final court verdict.
However, public prosecutors had resolved not to take Natalie as a state asset but no owner came forward to claim ownership.
As a result, its care was entrusted to the DNP.
Chimpanzees are a species close to humans and can also walk on two legs.
At present, CITES has banned any commercial trade of chimpanzees because it is an almost extinct species. It, however, has allowed the sale of chimpanzees for research or breeding purposes.
CITES has approved the emigration of Natalie from Thailand to Britain. She has already undergone health checks and been embedded with a microchip.
“After handing her over, we will continue to check on her well-being,” Pinsak said.