Health Checks Wrapped Up as Taiping 4 Gorillas Go Home for Christmas

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Cape Town, South Africa
The Taiping 4 gorillas return to Cameroon on 30 November, 2007, it was announced today.
The gorillas underwent a barrage of health tests this morning and, pending the outcome of required blood tests, all four were found to be in robust health.
 
“The gorillas are in fine shape, and we do not anticipate anything will stand in the way of them leaving on 30th November,” the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (NZG of SA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) said in a joint statement issued this afternoon.
 
“This will be an early Christmas gift for the people of the Republic of Cameroon who have been asking for the return of their gorillas since 2002. It also marks a watershed moment for cooperation between the governments of South Africa, Cameroon and Malaysia and the international ngo community, represented by IFAW, who have worked together closely to resolve the issue of the T4.”
 
Kenya Airways has agreed to sponsor the return of the gorillas and the animals will be traveling on a scheduled flight from Johannesburg, via Nairobi and onto Douala in the Cameroon on 30 November 2007.
The return will effectively end the five-year saga surrounding the four gorillas (a male and three females) that have made international headlines ever since they were found to have been smuggled to the Taiping Zoo in Malaysia using forged documents in 2002.
 
The gorillas were subsequently confiscated by the Malaysian Government and sent for safekeeping to the NZG of SA in Pretoria, South Africa.
 
Although the exact circumstances of how the gorillas were originally captured as infants are not certain, they were most likely victims of the bushmeat trade. The gorillas will be returned to their native country, Cameroon, and will be housed at the Limbe Wildlife Centre sanctuary which specialises in the care and rehabilitation of gorillas and other primates.
 
“This morning the gorillas were anaesthetised one-by-one to undergo routine health checks and to draw blood, which will be tested as per the requirements of both the South African and Cameroonian veterinary departments. The process was managed by veterinarians of the NZG of SA and their gorilla keepers and went without any incident,” said Dr Clifford Nxomani, the Executive Director of the NZG of SA.
 
“IFAW is delighted to confirm that Izan, Abbey, Tinu and Oyin, who have captured the imaginations of animal lovers worldwide for nearly three years, are in fine health and will be on their way home in exactly one month’s time,” said Christina Pretorius, Communications Manager for IFAW Southern Africa.
 
IFAW earlier agreed to fund the return of the four Western lowland gorillas. The organisation is one of a number of groups including the Born Free Foundation, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), the International Primates Protection League (IPPL), and the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA) that have lobbied consistently to have the gorillas returned to the Cameroon.
 
Kenya Airways is subsidizing the transport of the gorillas and their caregivers on a scheduled flight via Nairobi, and onto Douala in the Cameroon.
 
Joyce Aleksic, Sales Manager for South Africa for Kenya Airways, says the airline is ready to help.
 
“The transportation of animals is an extremely emotive issue for all concerned, and the staff of Kenya Airways is becoming particularly adept at ensuring the safe passage of this special cargo. We work closely with the experts traveling with the animals, adding substantially to our knowledge base with each experience. We are proud to be involved with IFAW,” she said.

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