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Monkey World News

Desperate Naree back performing

Daily Echo
1st April 2004

A CHIMP in desperate need of medical attention is back performing in a zoo despite protests from hundreds of Echo readers and the matter being brought to Prime Minister Tony Blair's attention.

Now calls are being made for the Thai authorities to tell the truth and abide by an international convention to protect endangered species.

The plight of Naree the chimp was highlighted by Dorset animal welfare campaigners Jim and Dr Alison Cronin.

The Monkey World owners came across the seven-year-old chimp performing at Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Bangkok, alongside other illegal animals, while investigating animal and bird smuggling in the Far East.

Their campaign - backed by the Echo and 2CR FM - to rescue Naree from her "nightmare" led to South Dorset MP Jim Knight raising the issuing with the PM.

Hundreds of readers also sent letters to the Thai Embassy demanding action.

But despite an assurance from the Royal Thai Embassy's first secretary Nuttapat Chumni-jarakij that Naree had been given the medical treatment she needs, the Monkey World sanctuary near Wool has twice received independent reports that Naree is back performing at the zoo.

This is in direct contravention of the Convention on the Inter-national Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which meets in Bangkok later this year, according to Mr Cronin.

"This is absolutely shocking behaviour. Naree and another baby chimp and two baby orang-utans are performing at the zoo," he said.

"The Thai government has sent out 1,000 letters to people, including MP Jim Knight and the British government, saying Naree is being well looked after.

"People have to decide for themselves when they look at these photos - is this the Thai government telling us that they care for Naree or their wildlife?"

Echo readers and 2CR FM listeners have written to the Thai authorities asking for photographic proof that Naree is being properly cared for.

"They have not been given that evidence. Naree has the right to be taken away from where she is and to be given a place of sanctuary - that is with a chimpanzee family and medical treatment," said Mr Cronin.

"The place where she is at the moment is her nightmare. She is dragged from her cage three times a day to perform with a bear and a tiger. She is scared, sad and suffering, and is then made to beg for money at the end of the shows. "

Jim Knight, MP for South Dorset, last year raised the issue of Naree's treatment during Prime Minister's Question Time.

He said it was possible the Thai authorities themselves were being misled.

The Echo called the Thai Embassy on Tuesday but, despite repeated requests, was told we could not speak to the Ambas-sador or his secretary. A spokes-man for the Embassy said Naree was back at the zoo and would be staying in Thailand.

When we asked whether Naree had been treated and whether it was legal for her to be back performing at the zoo, the spokesman said we would have to fax a letter to the Ambassador's secretary if we wanted further information. He assured us the matter was being taken seriously and that all correspondence was passed on to the Ambassador.

We faxed a letter to the Ambas-sador's secretary asking where Naree was now, whether she was actually treated and requesting proof that she was still alive and being looked after properly.

At the time of publication, we had received no response from the Thai Embassy.

If you would like to support the campaign to see Naree rescued, write to the Royal Thai Embassy, 30 Queen's Gate, London, SW7 3JB.

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