The baby orangutan that was drugged by a Russian trafficker who was attempting to smuggle the animal out of Bali and back to his home country earlier this year will be released back into the wild, according to Monday reports.
Russian national Andrei Zhestkov was arrested at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport in March for attempting to smuggle the 2-year-old orangutan in his suitcase back to Russia.
Officials had found the orangutan asleep in a basket, drugged with allergy pills, after a routine security screening.
Zhestkov, 27, told officials that a friend had bought the protected primate for $3,000 at a Java street market and given it to him, The Guardian reported at the time. He said that his friend – who is also Russian – convinced him he could take the orangutan home to keep as a pet, according to the report.
Authorities also discovered two geckos and five lizards in Zhestkov’s luggage. He was sentenced to a year in prison and fined the equivalent of $714, Kyodo News reported.
Conservationists will return the orangutan back into Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia, on Tuesday, AFP reported. Sumatra is one of only two places where the endangered orangutan is found in the wild, the report said.
According to the World Wildlife Foundation, there are only about 100,000 known orangutans remaining across the globe.