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A Prison Diet of Bread, Water and Bananas?

Russian Tourist Andrei Zhestov to Spend One Year Behind Bars for Trying to Put a Baby Orangutan in a Cage.

Andrei Zhestov (28), the Russian tourist who sedated a baby orangutan and tried to smuggle the animal through Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport and bring the primate to Russia on March 23, 2019, has been sentenced to a year in prison and fined US$700.

Claiming he intended to make the infant orangutan into a pet, the Russian reportedly purchased the animal for $300. The heavily drugged primate was found by security and quarantine officials hidden in his luggage inside a rattan basket, the Russian was charged with illegal possession of a highly endangered animals and other crimes that could have given him five years in prison.

Many environmental groups in Indonesia view the maximum penalty of 5 years in prison as an inadequate punishment to deter those intent on exploiting endangered specials and therefor called for the maximum penalty of five years to be imposed. The one year sentenced handed down by a panel of judges, however, was more than the 6 months sought by State Prosecutor.

The Russian’s naivety in committing the crime made what he did all the more senseless. Baby orangutans are never given up freely by their Mothers, necessitating that those seeking to sell the infant animals must almost invatiably have to first kill the mother. Moreover, although deceivingly cute and cuddly as infants, orangutans quickly develop into large and extremely strong animals that when removed from the wild require experienced handling in modern zoo environments.

The male orangutan, named by its protectors as Bon-Bon, will undergo a very long rehabilitative process in an effort to reconnect it with a wild community in the jungles of Indonesia.

That the Russian’s luggage also contained two live geckos and five lizards support suspicions in some quarters that Zhestov is, in fact, a dealer in protected rare animal species.

There are an estimate 100,000 orangutan left in the world. This number dwindles each year because of worldwide demand for palm oil that fuels cultivation that destroys and already dwindling habitat and pressures from villagers who compete for food with the primates.

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