Man arrested at airport for smuggling drugged orangutan in luggage

One Russian man was arrested at a Bali airport for attempting to smuggle a drugged baby orangutan in his luggage out of the air hub and back to his home country. The tourist now faces up to $7,000 in fines and five years in prison.

On Friday night, Andrei Zhestkov was detained at Ngurah Rai International Airport before boarding a flight back to Russia, The Independent reports. Officials found the 2-year-old orangutan fast asleep in a basket, evidently drugged with allergy pills, after a routine security screening.

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Zhestkov, 27, reportedly told officials that he had been given the protected primate by his friend, who had bought the creature for $3,000 at a Java street market. He detailed that his friend, also from Russia, had convinced him he could take the orangutan home to keep as a pet, as per The Guardian.

Authorities also discovered two geckos and five lizards in the man’s luggage.

Now, the would-be smuggler faces up to five years in prison and $7,000 in fines, according to the outlet.

“[Zhestkov] seemed prepared, like he was transporting a baby,” Bali conservation official I Ketut Catur Marbawa said of the scene, revealing that the Russian man had also packed baby formula and blankets.

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The baby orangutan is now being cared for by the Bali Natural Resources Conservation Agency, BBC reports.

As noted by the World Wildlife Foundation, orangutans are a critically endangered species with a few more than 100,000 known to be remaining across the globe.

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