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Chimps lost and found

The two chimpanzees that had gone missing. A Telegraph picture

Two of the three baby chimpanzees rescued from a house in Baguiati allegedly went missing while being taken to Alipore zoo for a medical check-up on Wednesday, only to be found in the same house on Thursday afternoon.

Customs officials said the chimpanzees had managed to open the door to their cages and hide in the house.

Officials of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) were taken aback when they were told by zoo officials that only one male chimpanzee had arrived in the cage. “We had received a memo from the WCCB informing us that three chimpanzees would be brought to the zoo. However, we were surprised to find only one male chimp and immediately alerted the WCCB officials,” said a senior zoo official.

The wildlife officials took up the matter with the customs department, which initially denied any knowledge of the missing primates. “Although they were responsible for the transportation, they said they had no idea about the missing animals. We asked them to start a search and were preparing ourselves to lodge a police complaint,” said a zoo official.

Sailendra Singh, the chief of the customs department, said the crowd gathered in front of the house had possibly scared the chimpanzees. “While the animals were being taken out on Wednesday there was a large gathering outside the house. That possibly frightened the animals and they opened the cage door by themselves and hid somewhere inside the house. In our hurry, we did not notice that the animals had fled,” Sailendra Singh, the chief of the customs department, said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

The two chimpanzees that had gone missing were in separate cages and one of them was sharing it with the third chimpanzee.

The two-storeyed house where the chimpanzees were found is spread over 1,200sq ft on each floor. It is connected at the first -floor level with a two-storeyed house on the adjoining premises. Each of the floors of the second house is about 1,000sq ft. The house also has about 500sq ft open space in front, where there are a few trees and cages.

One chimp and the marmosets reached the zoo at 1 m on Thursday and the other two chimps at 8pm.

“The animals will be quarantined for 21 days and closely observed. Their blood tests have already been carried out and they were fed with fruits on Thursday,” said a hospital official.