Arie Kievit

Police search for lion tamarin that was being kept illegally

Police in the Flemish Brabant municipality of Zaventem are searching for a lion tamarin that was released by its owners in the village of Sint-Steven-Woluwe. The owners released the small ape when they saw police officers approach their home. Lion tamarins are native to the rain forests of Brazil and it is illegal for private citizens to keep them in captivity. The current cold weather means that there is every chance that the animal will not survive for long in the outdoors. 

On Saturday afternoon Zaventem police received a tip off that a lion tamarin was being kept illegally at a house on the Bevrijdingslaan in Sint-Stevens-Woluwe, a village around 7km northeast of Brussels. When the owners of the house saw the police, they released the ape. Officers searched for the lion tamarin all weekend but were unable to find it.

Police Chief Jean-Pierre Van Thienenfears fears the worst “The ape has little chance of survival in this cold and wet weather. There are some trees and bushes near to the house, but they offer little shelter. Moreover, the house is near to the motorway. I think that the animal won’t survive”.

Lion tamarins are native to the rain forests of Brazil. They grow to between 20 and 40cm and are slightly built. The ape’s owners risk prosecution for keeping it in captivity illegally.

Police Chief Van Thienen is clear on the issue: "Unless you have a special licence you are not allowed to keep animals like this. If like now you are caught do the decent thing and don’t just release the animal. I think that the Judicial Authorities will take a dim view of this”.

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