Stop CITES and Congolese Government from Exporting Virunga Gorillas and Wildlife to China

Multiple species of highly protected/endangered wildlife will be shipped to China soon from the DR-Congo. These include six gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), eight Bonobos, eight chimpanzees, four manatees, and ten Okapis per zoo.

Two zoos = double the number

12 gorillas
16 bonobos
16 chimpanzees
8 manatees
20 Okapis


Gorilla beringei beringei: Critically Endangered

Eastern Gorillas (Gorilla beringei) live in the mountainous forests of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, northwest Rwanda and southwest Uganda. This region was the epicentre of Africa’s “world war”, to which Gorillas have also fallen victim. The Mountain Gorilla subspecies (Gorilla beringei beringei), has been listed as Critically Endangered since 1996. 

Bonobos: Endangered

Due to high levels of illegal hunting, and habitat destruction and degradation, Pan paniscus is estimated to have experienced a significant population reduction in the last 15–20 years and it is thought that this reduction will continue for the next 60 years. Currently, by far the greatest threat to the Bonobo’s survival is poaching for the commercial bushmeat trade. It has been estimated that nine tons of bushmeat are extracted daily from a 50,000-km² conservation landscape within the Bonobo’s range. 

Chimpanzees: Endangered

Although Pan troglodytes is the most abundant and widespread of the great apes, and many populations exist in protected areas, the declines that have occurred are expected to continue, satisfying the criteria for an Endangered listing (Oates 2006). Due to high levels of poaching, infectious diseases, and loss of habitat and habitat quality caused by expanding human activities, this species is estimated to have experienced a significant population reduction in the past 20–30 years and it is suspected that this reduction will continue for the next 30–40 years. 

Manatees: Vulnerable

The level of threats, particularly hunting and incidental catches, appears to be continuing to increase throughout range with locally high rates and near extirpation in some regions. Lack of protein and continued poverty for human populations, and limited enforcement of national laws, are expected to drive increasing illegal hunting levels. Destruction of coastal areas due to development, mangrove harvesting, siltation and dams are resulting in reduced habitat. We infer a high probability that a 30% or greater reduction in population size will result within a 90 year three generation period.

Okapi: Endangered

Okapi have been undergoing a decline since at least 1995 that is ongoing and projected to continue, in the face of severe, intensifying threats and lack of effective conservation action which is hindered by the lack of security. The rate of decline is estimated to have exceeded 50% over three generations (24 years), based on figures from surveys in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Réserve de Faune à Okapis; RFO) suggesting a 43% decline over the period 1995-2007, which some reports suggest continued in the period thereafter. The RFO remains the best protected site and it is inferred that the rate of decline here is at least equalled in other parts of the Okapi range. 

These species, some of which are endemic to the DRC, will end up in Taiyuan and Anji Zhongnan Zoos in China.


Taiyuan Zoo: Emaciated lion chews off its own tail in squalid Taiyuan Zoo in Shanxi

A lion at a zoo in China apparently ate part of its tail after keepers apparently forgot to feed it. The case highlights the poor conditions that many animals in Chinese zoos are forced to endure. Video footage shows the lion, which appears to be female, looking malnourished and pacing a small, bare caged area it was sharing with another lion in Taiyuan Zoo in Shanxi province. About half of its tail appears to be missing, with a bloody stump visible at the end of what remains. …. and more three calves imported into China in November 2012 are still languishing in miserable conditions inside Chinese zoos. The health of these 3 calves remains a major cause for concern.

Anji Zhongnan Zoo: This is not a garden. It is an amusement park with zoo, theme park.

Naturally, there are many plants too, but this place is certainly not designed in the vein of garden. Animal lovers beware: most of the animals are treated poorly (this is certainly not an exception in China), almost all of them walk on concrete and some huge animals like lions have few metres of space. So better skip it if you’re sensitive in that regard.


Chinese authorities made this request as part of the bilateral agreement between the ICCN (Institutions Congolais pour la conservation de la nature) and Chinese zoos.

Following the request by Mr. Liu Min Heng, executive director of Tianjin Junheng International Trade Corporation to import these animals to the Minister of Environment, nature conservation and Sustainable Development, Mr. Amy Ambatobe Nyongolo announced the arrival in China, of a team of Congolese experts with the mission to ensure good reception and best conservation of these different species in these zoos.

The agreement stipulates that any offspring of these animals should be introduced into the wild, in their natural habitat in the DRC, something which is unlikely due to many challenges, mainly the constant Congolese state’s lack of resources to carry out such exercises.

Even though the process is said to be legal and above board, nobody knows what the government of the DRC got in return for the trade of these precious animals and national heritage.

The bilateral relationship between China and the DRC seems to be a one way street where China dictates, thus getting the lion’s share. No Chinese endemic species are here in the DRC nor experts from China are involved in any conservation within the DRC yet they can make requests for anything they want from our fauna and flora and get it.


Following the letter of the Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development, Mr. Amy Ambatobe Nyongolo, the director of the ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature), Pasteur Dr. Cosma Wilungula, responded that the ICCN is required to respect the provisions of the CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and related Congolese laws, which provide that export can not be done for commercial purposes. This means that the Scientific Authorities of the DRC and China as well as the the Chinese Trader will have to get approval from CITES for an import and export permit.

The CITES Convention is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Sign Adams Cassinga’s petition  and ask DRC government and CITES not to allow the export of Virunga Gorillas and DRC’s endangered and vulnerable wildlife to China.

These species need to gain greater protection in their natural habitats and not die in a far away zoo.

From Adams Cassinga (with additional material SV)

56 thoughts on “Stop CITES and Congolese Government from Exporting Virunga Gorillas and Wildlife to China

  1. The poor animals will suffer a life of exploitation, misery and sadness. They need protecting on their own habitat and not exhibiting. This is breaking my heart!

  2. This is sad and distressing. Please do not send these animals to China . They belong in the jungle. The world does not need them in a zoo

  3. Allowing these endangered animals to be exported like this, is wrong on so many levels and is a crime against nature!!

  4. The actual number of animals being pursued are 12 mountain gorillas, 16 bonobos (it is incorrect to call them pygmy chimps), 16 chimpanzees, 8 African manatees, and 20 okapi. The request that you identified was for EACH of two zoos.
    If possible, could you please make corrections on the petition? Thank you.

    1. Dear Jo Thompson, happy to make changes on the blog (petition is not ours but a reblog of Adams Cassinga’s petition see Could you pls provide us any kind of supporting documents stating these numbers? Many thanks, SV

      1. SV, please read the letter dated 8 June which you posted above. It clearly states –
        Il s’agit des especes ci-apres pour chaque zoo:
        6 especes de gorille (Gorille beringei beringei),
        8 especes de bonobos (Pan paniscus),
        8 especes de chimpanzes (Pan troglodytes),
        4 especes de lamantins (Trichechus senegalensis), et
        10 Okapi (Okapia johnstoni).

        Il s’agit des especes ci-apres pour chaque zoo = These are the species below for EACH zoo

        Two zoo = double the number.
        12 gorillas
        16 bonobos
        16 chimpanzees
        8 manatees
        20 okapis.

      2. The number is clearly stated in the document posted above from the minister. Why does the petition state that the great apes are coming from Virunga?

  5. Stop this ridiculous unedsarry cruelty these animals will soon be extinct STOP 🛑

  6. Gorillas belong in the wild so they have a chance to survive as a species. Rangers have died and continue to risk their lives to save this species. I beg you not to send them to china.

  7. These animals are endangered , and often highly endangered . These countries have terrible records in welfare . So I urge you – please DO NOT send them .

  8. The CITES convention is clear. The transfer of these animals would be a clear violation. Don’t let it happen.

  9. This is so concerning, primarily because China has a rather terrible track record with respect or appreciation for wildlife. Perhaps China could work with some of the many conservation-oriented zoos around the world to ETHICALLY develop their own captive breeding populations, habitat enclosures, care plans, etc…. Virunga and similar preserves and sanctuaries could even consult and provide valuable insight into animal care. But plucking what precious few of these highly endangered species remain in their ever-threatened natural habitat is WRONG and does an absolute disservice to their conservation. Please don’t sell out Africa’s heritage.

  10. Please don’t export these animals. They deserve to stay at home!!!

  11. These animals deserve so much more than the existence a Chinese zoo can offer. The should be left in the wild and protected.

  12. Please cites you have the ability to help stop the illegal trade of endangered animals to Chinese Zoos. It is something that humanity should be deeply ashamed off. I know I am

  13. If us humans don’t have the decency to learn from all of our past mistakes and respect animals and northern earth, let it be known that if we don’t start acting responsible in 2018, we may not survive as a species ourselves by 2050.

  14. This must not be allowed to happen. No animal that livesin a chinese zoo or park has a healthy or happy life.!!!
    It must be prevented at all costs.
    Cites do your job.!!!

  15. I’m.sick of the chinese taking what they think they can . They have no respect for animal or human life

  16. Please leave these endangered species in their own habitat. Protect them!

  17. Please remember you are the guardians of these critically endangered animals. They cannot be replaced. Please protect these animals for the whole world and your generations of citizens.

  18. Please protect the gorillas from harm… this must be stopped ! Your fortune would increase if you stopped the. Violence

  19. You are putting your last treasures on sale. Please don’t. There will be nothing left very soon.. The world is watching and someone might help. Call for support and protect your species

  20. China is #Buying another Country’s Wildlife, their Natural environment and China Environment is not it, not it, or they would have #Evolved there!! Ship these #Endangered Wild Animals to China and these critically endangered Wildlife will be dead soon! How are the African Elephants doing?

  21. No animal(s) should ever EVER be sent to China no matter what – they kill, torture, abuse all animals in the most horrendous ways….

  22. Please do not allow animals to be sent to zoos, but increase protection of their habitat, with only eco tourism and ecological initiatives as financing. Preserve the fragile ecosystem and its biodiversity.

  23. Why does the petition identify Virunga as the source of the great apes in this deal, there are no bonobos there? The two zoos deny they are taking any apes. There is something very fishy going on here.

  24. China has a barbaric and cruel track record regarding animals. What is the point of sending these animals who are endangered to live a life of hell. Wild animals should be just that and not passed on to anywhere on a whim. How about charity starts at home and that means animals belong in their own land in the wild.

  25. They are vulnerable and we should not be exploiting these beautiful creatures.
    We should be there voice

  26. Humans should be there voice!
    Stop China from getting there hands on these beautiful animal’s

  27. The destruction that this will cause and the damage to the individual animals, family groups and the species as a whole will be enormous and irreversible. It is neither ethical nor necessary. Please ensure that it does not happen.

  28. Please leave them where they are. I have been to see these gorillas. They are where they should be not in China! Keep the pandas in China. Can you image what it would be like for them. NO STOP NOW

  29. Why has not more investigative work been done on past such exports and imports from DRC to China and why is the fact that they are not on display anywhere not been used to question the parties concerned as far as the very high chance that gorillas and other apes from Congo have perished in the past in China (or are still hidden in some quarantine facility ) – despite Congolese delegations having been sent on previous occassions to inspect facilities. This track record already exists. As such it is not surprising that it is being tried again. To much cash on the table..

  30. Please leave these creatures in their wild habitat. They do not belong in zoos, please do not allow them to be caught and shipped off

  31. They are vulnerable and we should not be exploiting these beautiful creatures.
    We should be there voice

  32. Leave the gorillas and other animals in the wild. Do not allow them to be sent to a life of misery. Animals do not thrive in zoos, they die there. And China has a terrible track record for animal cruelty.

  33. The link to the petition does not work. Could you please send a working one? We need to do everything we can to stop this.

  34. Keep the wildlife in Virunga and watch the world gladly pay to flock there to see your treasures in their natural habitat. Why throw your jewels away, to die miserable deaths in far away lands where they will never be appreciated as much as they are in their homeland. Do the right thing and it will reap the most rewards for the animals, the park and the Congolese.

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