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DRC Apes Kidnapped for Ransom

An animal sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing demands for ransom money, after kidnappers abducted three of its baby chimpanzees. “This is the first time in the world that baby apes were kidnapped for ransom,” Franck Chantereau, founder of the sanctuary where the kidnap took place, told CNN. Kidnappers broke into the sanctuary around 3 a.m. on September 9, Chantereau said, and took away three of the five baby chimpanzees that he had rescued so far this year – César, Hussein and Monga. He later found the other two hiding in the kitchen. The authorities are still investigating and trying to identify the kidnappers, in the hope of finding them in the coming days or weeks, according to Koyakpa. This is not the first time that Chantereau’s sanctuary has been targeted, however. Months after its foundation in 2006, a group of people broke in during the night and set fire to the baby chimps’ sleeping place, killing two out of the five that were there at the time. In September 2013, the sanctuary’s education center was set ablaze, but there were no casualties, according to Chantereau. His sanctuary, called Young Animals Confiscated in Katanga (abbreviated to JACK in French), is in Lubumbashi, close to the border between the DRC and Zambia, on a key route from Congo to South Africa through which apes are smuggled to the rest of the world.