Dozens of animals held in illegal zoos in the West African nation of Guinea were released back into the wild on Thursday, April 13.
The zoos were on properties owned by Army colonel Ibrahima Bangoura, who was arrested after a difficult four-year investigation by multiple enforcement agencies including Interpol and the Guinea ministry of the environment.
Included among the rescued animals were chimpanzees, baboons, ostriches, turtles and tortoises, crocodiles, a leopard-like serval cat, crowned cranes and parrots.
Many of the rescued animals are on the CITES protected or endangered lists.
Some of the animals needed medical care. One of the chimps was severely malnourished.
Animals native to Africa were released after getting medical treatment. Animals from different habitats were held.
The chimps also had to be quarantined before being released, to make sure they do not carry any diseases.
The investigation was made more difficult because the Colonel Bangoura had a lot of political influence. He is suspected of being part of an international ring trading in endangered species.
Guinea is a hub for trafficking in endangered species and animal parts like ivory, shark fins, pelts, and live animals.