The Tale of the Taiping Gorillas

Gorilla2_wm_1 A four year battle to return a group of illegally smuggled gorillas to their home country of Cameroon may now be ending. This group of gorillas, coined the ‘Taiping 4’, were snatched from the wild in 2002, most likely ripped from the arms of their dead mothers. Their destination: Taiping Zoo, Malaysia.

I first heard of this scandal back in 2002 while volunteering at Gorilla Haven in Georgia. At that time we were all in disbelief, something like this couldn’t possibly happen in an age where international laws set harsh punishments for such activities. Now in 2006, I am stunned that it has taken this long for these defenseless animals to receive any amount of respect.

Also in this thread:
Taiping 4 Rescue Update - 11.29.06
Taiping 4 Relocation Updage - 12.11.06

Little did the smugglers know how much trouble they would soon be in after snatching the gorillas from the wild. The export of this endangered species goes against every national and international law protecting their survival. Upon hearing what had happened, conservation and welfare groups such as IFAW seized the opportunity to publicly reprimand the culprits.

Shockingly, these four gorillas were exported through South Africa to Malaysia using forged travel permits. However, once the Government of Malaysia caught wind of the upheaval, they immediately investigated the situation and sent the gorillas back to South Africa. In South Africa they were held at the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria.

Although this is one step to be applauded for, the Malaysian government still wasn’t completely sold on the idea that the gorillas were actually captured from the wild, and therefore retained practical “ownership” of them. In light of this, DNA tests were requested to determine the origin of the four baby gorillas.

After four years (!) and at about seven years old, the DNA tests now confirm that these four gorilla babies are of the species Gorilla gorilla gorilla (Western Lowland Gorilla).Western Lowland Gorillas are classified as endangered by the IUCN, the World Conservation Union. It is estimated that as few as 110,000 animals remain in the wild in Central Africa.

In light of this the Government of Cameroon began making formal requests to have the gorillas returned to their home country. Following the confirmation of their species by the DNA tests the Government of Malaysia withdrew their “ownership” and IFAW has now offered to cover all costs to move the gorillas back to Cameroon.

Once there, they will reside at the Limbe Wildlife Center: a world renowned center of excellence for rehabilitation. Without a doubt these gorillas will receive the best possible care following such a tragic start to life.

Comments: 3

9 years ago

the more I read the more i want to learn about what IFAW does. Amazing!! My children will also learn of the projects IFAW does for the worlds animals. Thank-you from those of us who can't be as successsful. Suicccess can be measured in small amounts.I want to campaign for the grizly bear in my country and will start fund raising for this project.Thank-you

9 years ago

yippy Johnny aND SUZY are on their way to a new life in the wild. Awesome work!!

11 years ago

I think what you're doing is wonderfull and worthy of recognition! I really appreciate it.
I was surfing the web earlier and came upon this title: Ethiopian Zoo Poisons Lion Cubs It Can't Afford. I hate to see any animals suffer or die by human stupidity, if there is anything at all that you can do, even if its simply informing someone in a better position to help, it would be the best thing in the world. I truely hope that you continue to save animal's lives.

Post a comment