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Flemish zoo takes in 7 illegally imported Barbary monkeys

The monkeys were rescued in Poland in 2017 from an illegal breeding centre. Credit: Jonas Verhulst

ZOO Planckendael in Mechelen has taken in a family of seven Barbary macaque monkeys that were illegally imported into Europe.

The monkeys were rescued in Poland in 2017 from an illegal breeding centre, and ended up at the Nature help centre in the municipality of Opglabbeek in the Limburg province in Flanders. The help centre then looked for an appropriate shelter for the animals and found it at the Planckendael zoo.

Barbary monkeys are an endangered species and live in the Atlas Mountains in North Africa (Morocco and Algeria) up to an altitude of 2,000 meters. Their number has fallen by 65% in the last 30 years and only about 10,000 animals are left.

Their habitat is being taken over by humans and the animals are traded and imported illegally, also in Europe, to serve as pets or tourist attractions.

The group in Planckendael consists of three males and four females. The oldest monkey, a male named Aku, is 20 years old. The youngest one is a 2-year-old female named Musa. The ZOO Planckendael participates in the European breeding programme, EEP (EAZA Ex situ Program).

The new outdoor area where the monkeys are staying is around 2,500 m² in size and has various climbing trees. The focus is on a seven metres winter-green Atlas cedar tree.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times