Chimps, gorillas and other primates in peril amid illegal trafficking and forest destruction

A U.N. report says the multibillion-dollar trade in illegal wildlife that has driven iconic creatures like the tiger to near-extinction is also threatening the survival of great apes.

Endangered chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas and bonobos are disappearing from the wild in frightening numbers, as private owners pay top dollar for exotic pets, while disreputable zoos, amusement parks and traveling circuses clamor for smuggled primates to entertain audiences.

The report says more than 22,000 great apes are estimated to have been traded illegally over the seven years ending in 2011. That's about 3,000 a year; more than half are chimpanzees.