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Life Line for the Orphaned Chimps in Peril

The Express


ORPHAN chimpanzees rescued by British animal welfare campaigners in Turkey were thrown a lifeline by the Government last night. After hearing of the haby chimps' plight, Environment Minister Michael Meacher stepped in and pledged his personal support for bringing them to Britain As The Express revealed yesterday, Turkey is the latest target of a Europe-wide smuggling operation that has killed at least 10,000 baby chimps over the past decade. The infants are sold as pets to rich Europeans or to laboratories where they are used in scientific experiments. Two of the smuggled chimps were rescued in Turkey a fortnight ago by Jim Cronin and his wife Alison, who run an ape sanctuary in Dorset. The pair want to bring the chimps to their sanctuary, hut they need permission from the British and Turkish authorities to do so. The chimps are currently being housed m a Turkish zoo which lacks the proper facilities to care for them. Mr Cronin said: "They could die very quickly if they are not cared for properly." But Mr Meacher promised ' urgent action. "We are content for the animals to be brought into the UK," he said, "on sight of a valid export permit from the Turkish authorities. This is in accordance with international regulations on the trade in endangered species. "We are pressing ahead with this matter as quickly as possible and my department has taken all the necessary steps. We are now awaiting the action of the Turkish authorities." A spokesman for the Turkish Embassy in London said they would try to rush through the necessary formalities as quickly as possible. A spokesman said: "We will sort out the bureaucratic procedures as soon as possible and send the chimps to the UK." The moves by the Government and the Turkish pledge of support have delighted animal welfare campaigners. Mr Cronin said: "The British Government's full backing is a real victory for our chimp rescue work in Turkey. The rescue effort will help stop smuggling and keep the chimps in the wild where they belong. If the Turks carry on clamping down on the trade as they have been doing, they will save thousands of chimps in the long run." Dr Jane Goodall the world's foremost chimp expert, also welcomed the news. "It's fantastic," she said. "It's a sign of hope. it's a sign that people understand the terrible bureaucratic problems that people like us face when we need to get things done speedily." Mr Cronin is now planning to return to Turkey to bring the two rescued chimps to Britain. He and his wife will also try to track down the smugglers who made off with another three chimps they were planning to rescue. They're out there and we're going to find them," he said. "We believe there are many more chimps in Turkey and we want to bring them all to Britain."

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