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Monkey business in Pakistan court during smuggling case

Karachi (AFP) – A baby monkey caused chaos in a Pakistan court after escaping from a troop presented as evidence in a case of wildlife smuggling, officials said.

Two men were intercepted outside Karachi on Thursday trying to smuggle 14 baby monkeys in crates usually used to transport mangos.

But when they were brought to court on Friday, one of the monkeys escaped – causing chaos as staff tried to tempt it down from a tree.

“The monkeys were kept in the boxes in a bad condition… they could hardly breathe,” said Chief of Sindh Wildlife Department Javed Mahar.

The trade or keeping of wild animals is illegal in Pakistan, but laws are routinely ignored and there is a lively market in exotic pets.

Monkeys are frequently kept by street entertainers to attract customers, and in some cases have been trained by criminals to enter houses to steal.

The smugglers were each fined PKR100,000 (around USD350) on Friday and the court ordered the monkeys to be handed over to Karachi Zoo – a step immediately criticised by wildlife officials.

“The monkeys should have been returned to their natural habitat from where they were captured,” Mahar said.

Pakistan’s zoos are notorious for their poor facilities and activists accuse them of disregarding animal welfare.

In 2020, a court ordered the only zoo in the country’s capital to close because of its decrepit state.

A monkey feeds inside a cage at a zoo in Karachi, Pakistan after being recovered from illegal traders. PHOTO: AFP