Jakarta — Hundreds of slow lorises were seized on Java Island in Indonesia as smugglers were about to send the rare primates to markets to be sold as pets, said officials Friday.
Government authorities discovered 238 of the protected primates packed into small plastic crates at Merak in northwest Java.
They had been smuggled from Sumatra, a jungle-covered island that is home to many rare animal species, said the International Animal Rescue Foundation Indonesia.
Six of the animals died on the way to the rescue center “because they were squeezed tight in the crates and lacked food and water,” said a spokesman for the foundation.
Vets at the rescue center said the animals had apparently been captured recently and hopefully could be released back into the wild soon, according to reports.
Authorities said they have a suspect in the case who would face trial soon. The maximum penalty for selling protected animals in Indonesia is five years in jail and 100 million rupiah (US$8,700).
The nocturnal animal, one of the few mammals with a toxic bite, is found across Southeast Asia.