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France seizes hundreds of primate skulls headed for US

  • Customs officials seized nearly 400 skulls over several months
  • The skulls were intended as gifts for hunters or collectors
  • More than 300 skulls from other animals were also seized

FILE – A chimpanzee looks out of his enclosure as visitors trickle into Zoo Miami, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Miami. Three chimpanzees that escaped from their enclosure in a central Sweden animal park and roamed the closed Furuvik zoo north of Stockholm, have been put to sleep. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

(NewsNation) — Customs officers in France seized nearly 400 primate skulls headed toward the U.S. over the past several months.

France’s customs service said agents seized the 392 primate skulls and 326 skulls from other animals between May and December at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

The agency said the skulls were mainly from Cameroon and were being shipped to the U.S. as prizes or gifts for hunting associations and for collectors. The majority of the skulls were from monkeys, although there were also some from chimpanzees and mandrills.

According to Al Jazeera, a customs official told reporters the animals were typically hunted for meat, with the sale of skulls an add-on business for animal traffickers.

Once seized, the skulls were handed over to the Aix-en-Provence Natural History Museum.

“I am stunned to imagine that our closest relatives, monkeys and great apes, are decimated and the tropical forests plundered of their endangered biodiversity for a market as stupid as it is revolting,” said Sabrina Krief, a great apes specialist at France’s National Museum of Natural History.


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