Published: Monday 15 January 1996

Animal rights activists recently came to blows with the members of Akef Egyptian Circus while campaigning to drive them out of Zimbabwe. They alleged that the circus was just a camouflage for carrying on smuggling of endangered species. The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals tried to seize three dying pythons from the circus. Animal rights activists have been tracing the circus' movements in Africa for the last five years. They suspect the circus is a link through which chimpanzees, pythons, falcons, gray parrots and may be even lion cubs are smuggled from the central African jungles to private zoos in Saudi Arabia or laboratories in the US and Europe. Despite stringent laws regarding endangered species, smuggling goes on unhampered. The activists are particularly concerned about the smuggling of chimpanzees, as for every baby chimpanzee captured, 10 adults, who rush for its rescue, are also killed.

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