A Russian tourist attempting to smuggle a drugged orang utan out of Indonesia in his suitcase to bring home and keep as a pet has been arrested in Bali, police said on Saturday (March 23).
Local authorities quoted the Russian as saying he had been gifted the young orangutan by a friend, another since-departed Russian tourist, who purchased the animal for $3,000 (€3,600) at a street market on Indonesia's main island of Java.
He had deliberately fed the animal allergy pills mixed with milk so it would lose consciousness for up to three hours.
Andrei Zhestkov, 27, stuffed the stowaway - a sleeping orangutan - in his luggage, officials at Bali Airport in Indonesia said.
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. "He said he planned to re-administer the drugs when they transited" in South Korea, Dewa Delanata, from the airport's quarantine office, told the Jakarta Post.
"[Zhestkov] seemed prepared, like he was transporting a baby", Marbawa said.
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Mr Zhestkov claimed he had bought the orangutan for $4,200 and was trying to take it back to Russian Federation as a pet, according to a spokesman from Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.
Ketut Catur Marbawa, from Bali province's conservation agency, said customs officers also found allergy pills, two geckos and five lizards in the man's suitcase.
Now, the would-be smuggler faces up to five years in prison and $7,000 in fines, according to the outlet.
Orangutans face threats from poachers and farmers in Indonesia.
Orangutans are a critically endangered species, according to the World Wildlife Fund, with only a little more 100,000 remaining worldwide.
Four Indonesian men were arrested a year ago over the killing of an orang utan shot some 130 times with an air gun.
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