16 rare animals rescued from illegal pet shops in Vietnam metro

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Ho Chi Minh City forest rangers and police seize squirrels among other rare animals from an illegal pet shop Saturday

The Ho Chi Minh City environment police and forest rangers Saturday rescued 16 rare animals from illegal pet shops around the city.

They found one loris, two blossom-headed parakeets, two southern pig-tailed macaques, two long-tailed macaques, four squirrels, two porcupines, two Indochinese box turtles, and one ferret, all listed in Vietnam's Red Book of endangered species, following tip-offs by Tuoi Tre reporters.

Nguyen Dinh Cuong, head of the city Forest Management Department, described the rescue as "a rather big one."

The animals, many of them injured after being recently hunted in nearby provinces, have been taken to the city wildlife rescue center in the outlying Cu Chi District where they will be nurtured back to health before release back in the wild.

Gai, owner of a shop on Le Hong Phong Street, District 10, was about to sell the loris and two turtles when the officials arrived.

When Tuoi Tre reporters visited earlier, he had many monkeys and other animals, most of them with chains on their legs or necks.

Gai had offered to sell porcupines for VND3 million (US$144) to the undercover reporters, and protected golden langurs for VND20-25 million per pair.

Tuoi Tre found he owns a bigger shop in neighboring Binh Duong Province.

Phuong, who had left her shop in District 8 before the officials came, told Tuoi Tre she could supply wild animals in a week, but lorises were always available at VND1.2 million.

She claimed she could even get leopards from suppliers in Laos and Cambodia for VND50 million for a cub, and VND80 million for an adult.

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Elsewhere, the wildlife rescue center at the Pu Mat National Park in the north-central province of Nghe An received a southern pig-tailed macaque from a local resident.

Its website said Vietnamese wildlife NGO Education for Nature had persuaded Nguyen Dinh Vy to hand over the monkey, which weighed 2.5 kilograms and was in good health.

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