A Russian man was arrested after trying to smuggle a drugged orangutan, 5 lizards, and 2 geckos out of Indonesia in his luggage

  • A Russian tourist was arrested after trying to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Indonesia in his suitcase, police said.
  • Andrei Zhestkov said he wanted to keep the orangutan as a pet.
  • He told authorities he fed the primate allergy pills and milk so it would lose consciousness.
  • Also in Zhestkov’s luggage were two geckos, and five lizards.
  • According to Indonesian authorities, Zhestkov could face up to five years in prison, as well as a $US7,000 fine for smuggling.

A Russian man was arrested in Indonesia after attempting to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of the country in his luggage, local police said on Sunday.

Andrei Zhestkov was preparing to fly out of the resort island Bali on Friday when an X-ray machine flagged the primate inside his suitcase, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Security officers found the two-year-old Borneo orangutan sleeping inside a fruit basket, according to the AP. The suitcase also contained allergy pills, two geckos, and five lizards, authorities said.

The 27-year-old tourist told authorities that he fed the orangutan a mixture of allergy pills and milk so that it would lose consciousness for up to three hours, the AP reported. He said he wanted to re-dose the ape during a layover in Seoul, South Korea.

Orangutan Bali(Firdia Lisnawati/AP)Denpasar police chief Ruddi Setiawan, center left, holds a two-year-old male orangutan as Russian Andrei Zhestkov, center right, stands during a press conference in Bali, Indonesia on Monday, March 25, 2019.

Ketut Catur Marbawa, an official with Bali province’s conservation agency, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Zhestkov also packed baby formula and blankets.

“He seemed prepared, like he was transporting a baby,” Marbawa said.

Zhestkov told Indonesian authorities that he wanted to keep the orangutan as a pet, AFP reported. He said he received the primate as a gift from a friend, another Russian tourist who bought it for $US3,000 at a street market on the island of Java.

The Russian citizen could face a five-year prison sentence and a $US7,000 smuggling fine, Marbawa told AFP.

Orangutans are a critically endangered species, thanks to palm oil plantations and illegal loggers encroaching on their natural habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). A little more than 100,000 Borneo orangutans remain worldwide.

Read more: An endangered orangutan was blinded after being shot 74 times with an air gun

Orangutan are especially vulnerable to hunters because they are large and slow, according to WWF.

Earlier this month a female orangutan was blinded after she was stabbed and shot 74 times with an air gun near an Indonesian palm oil plantation. Her newborn did not survive.

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