File picture of a marmoset at Alipore zoo
Three baby chimpanzees and five marmosets a rare species of monkey the size of a large rat smuggled from Africa and Brazil through Hong Kong and Bangladesh earlier this week were rescued from a house in Baguiati on Wednesday evening.
The animals, possibly smuggled into India through North 24-Parganas, were allegedly on their way to Tamil Nadu. Six chimpanzees are suspected to have been brought to Calcutta but three were possibly sent to Mumbai on Tuesday night by road.
Sale or purchase of these animals is legal but since they were brought into the country without customs clearance, they were seized and sent to Alipore zoo to be quarantined.
The animals looked tired and ill and so were sent to Alipore zoo for medical check-up and treatment, an official said.
The owner of the house, Supratik Guha, who allegedly has a licence to trade animals, was not arrested.
Officials of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and the customs department conducted a joint raid based on a tip-off. They found the animals trapped in small wooden boxes. A few birds were also seized.
The chimpanzees, aged between one and three years, were around two feet in height while the marmosets were around 18 months old. Officials put the market value of each chimpanzee at Rs 3 lakh and that of the marmosets at approximately Rs 1.5 lakh each. Both are said to be in huge demand as exotic pets.
Wildlife officials, along with the Lake police, also rescued a gecko lizard and arrested three persons from a house in Lake Gardens on Wednesday.
The yellow-green gecko found in the Sunderbans is a nocturnal arboreal lizard and its possession is punishable under Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Gecko meat has a rising demand in the manufacture of traditional medicines in China and Vietnam.
Police said the arrested trio were trying to trade the gecko and were caught in a trap after a wildlife official posed as a client.
Eight marmosets were stolen from Alipore zoo in August 2009. Seven of them were recovered from Durg in Chhattisgarh while one died.