Omega, a twelve year old chimpanzee, was safely flown to a sanctuary in
Brazil after being rescued from a zoo in southern Lebanon. Animals Lebanon
was notified about the small zoo in April 2010, and successfully worked with
the owner to close down the zoo and send the animals to sanctuaries.
Omega was used in a restaurant for two years when he was still young,
serving narguileh water pipes to customers. After he was no longer able to
be controlled, Omega was given to the zoo and has languished alone for the
last nine years in a small cage. Located in the village of Ansar, the zoo
was built on the grounds of what used to be a detention camp during
Lebanon's civil war. The owner recognized that the animals are not being
kept in appropriate conditions and agreed to turn over all animals.
The Curitiba sanctuary in Brazil has agreed to care for Omega for the rest
of his life, and this will be the first time he has seen another chimpanzee
in ten years. "The transfer of the chimpanzee is a complex operation and is
following all the procedures in order to provide a safe transfer from
Lebanon and guarantee a good adaption of the animal in the sanctuary
facilities. It also represents the importance of partnerships between
countries in different continents when it comes to defend great primates'
rights," explained the sanctuary spokesperson.
A team from Animals
Lebanon left Beirut early Monday Morning for the 90 minute drive to the zoo.
Moving Omega from the cage at the zoo to the crate he would travel in during
the flight required special care, and Dr. An Pas of the Breeding Center for
Endangered Arabian Wildlife in UAE came to Lebanon to ensure this move went
Omega was very calm in his cage despite the activity going on
nearby. He was able to be sedated quickly and once asleep was carried out of
the cage on stretcher. In only one hour he was given a general health check
and placed in the transport crate. Omega woke up, and for the first time in
ten years he had a view of the world other than looking out from his cage.
Arriving at the airport, Omega had one last meal and everyone involved in
the rescue said their goodbyes before he was flown to Brazil.
�Obviously transporting animals requires the highest degree of care and
special handling, from when we accepted the chimpanzee for carriage in
Lebanon, right through to when we delivered Omega to the sanctuary in Sao
Paulo,� said Dave Gould, Emirates� Senior Vice President Cargo Operations
Worldwide. "An operation like this can only go to plan with nothing less
than total cooperation from everyone involved - from the team at Animals
Lebanon to the captain of the aircraft to customs authorities to the cargo
handlers. This was a true joint effort from the outset and we are very proud
to have played a role delivering Omega to his new home."
still no licensing or regulating of zoos in Lebanon," said Lana El-Khalil,
President of Animals Lebanon. "This is the third zoo we have worked to close
down, and until the remaining zoos meet international standards Animals
Lebanon will continue to campaign to have conditions drastically improve or
the zoos closed. Omega finally got his opportunity at a better life, a
chance which all chimpanzees in Lebanon need."
Chimpanzees and other highly endangered wildlife continue to be smuggled
into and through Lebanon, and recently have been found at a gas station and
restaurant, and in private animal collections. Lebanon is one of the few
remaining countries which have not yet joined the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species, the main international convention
which should protect these animals.
Thank you to the Anami
Conservationist Institute and the Curitiba Sanctuary in Brazil for caring
for Omega for the rest of his life, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for
providing funds to help with this transfer, Emirates SkyCargo for flying
Omega at reduced cost, and all Animals Lebanon supporters who donated so
generously to make this rescue possible.
to see the Associated Press video of this move.