Three orphaned chimpanzees in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being held for a six-figure ransom in a heartbreaking scene after they were kidnapped from a sanctuary.

A video of the animals in the bare brick room sent to the Lubumbashi sanctuary shows one chimp, Monga, with his hands tied above his head while two other terrified animals, Hussain and Cesar, run from their captors. were trying to

“You can see how scared they are,” said Frank Chantero, the shelter’s founder. Jack Primate Rehabilitation Centertold Times of London.

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Chantero said in a tweet that the kidnappers have also threatened to kidnap his wife and children.

We need your prayers.” he tweeted in French.

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The kidnappers, who snatched the chimps earlier this month, have threatened to kill the animals. 2 to 5 years of ageand if their demands for an unspecified sum of money are not met, their chiefs will send it to the Centre.

Chantereau vows not to pay the ransom because he believes doing so would only encourage more kidnappings, but the center works with law enforcement to track down the kidnappers and rescue the chimps. doing.

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Chantereau is pessimistic about seeing the chimps again because each is worth $11,000 on the black market.

“It’s a nightmare… it was such a disaster,” Chantero told the online environmental publication. Mongabe. “We have faced many challenges over the years now. But we have never experienced anything like this: abduction of monkeys.

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According to Chintero, the kidnapped chimps were orphaned by the illegal wildlife trade, which involves the killing of families of baby chimps. A recently rescued chimp, 2-year-old Caesar, was at the center just weeks before he was taken.

“They were all given a second chance, but now this fresh horror,” Chantero told The Times. Since he founded the sanctuary 16 years ago, he said, the illegal wildlife trade has “turned into a war” and about 100 endangered monkeys are now under armed guard at his facility. .

Adams Kesinga, director of ConservCongo, a Congolese non-profit organization that Assists in the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes.says the incident is a worrying sign that wildlife traffickers are becoming more emboldened in the absence of effective law enforcement.

“This is the first time I have heard of people literally kidnapping animals to ask for money,” he said.

Chimpanzees, humans’ closest relatives, are listed as one. Extinction of endangered breed From the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

An estimate 1 million chimpanzees In the early 1900s, they roamed the forests of West and Central Africa. Now their number has dwindled to less. 150,000. The largest population, about 115,000, is found in DRC, Cameroon and Gabon.

The biggest threats to chimpanzees are habitat loss, poaching and disease. They are caught and sold as pets and killed for their meat.

Hussain is one of three chimps kidnapped for ransom from the JACK Primate Rehabilitation Center earlier this month.

Courtesy of JACK Primate Rehabilitation Center

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