October 15, 2010 - Omega the chimpanzee spends his days in a cage, smoking cigarette ends. Originally trained to perform tricks at a restaurant, he soon became too strong – and too unhappy – for his role, and was sent to live in a zoo in southern Lebanon.
Now 12 years old, he has not seen another chimp, or climbed a tree, in 10 years.
Animals Lebanon – a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works to educate for “A better Lebanon, one animal at a time” – has taken up Omega’s cause.
The owner finally agreed to close thesmall zoo – which was damaged by the 2006 summer war with Israel – but the responsibility for re-homing the animals now rests with Animals Lebanon. Jason Mier, the NGO’s executive director hopes to find homes for some of the animals, such as the ducks, geese and rabbits locally.
It is not so easy with an adult chimpanzee, but Animals Lebanon has now found a suitable home for Omega, over 10,000 kilometers (6,213.7 miles) away, in South America. A dedicated chimpanzee reserve, The Vargem Grande Paulista Sanctuary in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has offered Omega a permanent home. The sanctuary will offer Omega a home as close to his natural environment as possible.
Import and export permits have now been issued by the respective governments, and the NGO is in talks with Qatar Airways to organize Omega’s flight to Sao Paulo.
They need to find a plane that can carry live animals, and then pay for the cargo – a heavy load considering Omega has to be transported in a metal cage weighing around 200 kilograms. “At $10 or $12 per kilogram, this is quite an expensive flight,” Mier added.
The NGO is asking for donations via their website animalslebanon.org to help with Omega’s safe and prompt transit to his new South American home, where he will interact with other chimpanzees for the first time in a decade.
Reference: NGO launches appeal to rescue smoking chimpanzee by Olivia Alabaster, Daily Star staff, Lebanon - The Daily Star, 10/15/2010.
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