The monkeys, aged between 2 and 5, were abducted earlier this month when a gang broke into the JACK Primate Rehabilitation Center in the middle of the night.
“It’s a nightmare… it was such a disaster,” the center’s founder, Franck Chantereau, told the Mongabay environmental agency. “We have been facing a lot of challenges for 18 years. But we have never experienced anything like this: the abduction of monkeys.”
Monkey abduction could be world’s first
JACK is one of three monkey sanctuaries in the war-ravaged Central African country. It is home to about 40 chimpanzees and other primates, such as the endangered golden-bellied mangabey. The organization is working with law enforcement agencies to save the chimpanzees.
Adams Cassinga, of ConservCongo, a Congolese NGO that investigates wildlife crime, told reporters it may be the world’s first monkey abduction.
“This is very rare, this is the first time, not just in Africa but in the world, that I’ve heard of this. We’ve heard [of] people who use wildlife as a shield or as a political or social agenda. This is the first time I’ve heard of people literally kidnapping animals so they can ask for money,” he said.