A Russian who tried to smuggle a two-year-old orangutan onto a plane so he could bring him home as a pet has been arrested in Bali.
Andrei Zhestkov, 27, was detained in Denpasar airport after authorities discovered an ape sleeping inside a rattan basket during an X-ray security screening.
Baby formula and blankets were found packed inside Zhestkov’s belongings and the ape is suspected to have been drugged so that he slept during the journey.
“We suspect the orangutan was given a drug to make it sleep as long as it was in the suitcase,” the Bali Natural Resources Conservation Agency said in a statement.
“We believe the orangutan was fed allergy pills which caused him to sleep. We found the pills inside the suitcase.”
Zhestkov said the ape was gifted to him by a friend, who had bought him for $3,000 in Java.
The Russian national also had two live geckos and five lizards in his luggage. He could face up to five years in jail or a $7,000 fine for smuggling.
“He seemed prepared, like he was transporting a baby,” Marbawa said.
A two-year-old male orangutan, which a Russian citizen attempted to smuggle out of Indonesia, Antara Foto.
Some species of orangutan are endangered. The apes are seen as pests by some farmers and villagers in Indonesia, so are vulnerable to attacks. Poachers also catch them to sell them as pets.
Apes are protected. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, they are often found wild in the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.