Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Bobby: the gorilla on the wrong side of the law

 The western lowland gorilla was smuggled from Africa to Italy in the 1980s. As taxidermy, he is part of a new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland

Monday 28 November 2016 07.02 GMT

Name: Bobby
Species: Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
Dates: 1983-2008
Claim to fame: Much-loved zoo animal
Where now:
National Museum of Scotland

In 1994, magistrates from the Italian province of Ancona found the manager of a local circus guilty of importing a gorilla into the country. Bobby (variously also known as Bongo, Bongo III and Bongo Junior) had been captured as a baby in Equatorial Guinea more than a decade earlier and is thought to have been brought to Italy soon afterwards as “a chimpanzee”.

Either way – gorilla or chimpanzee – the transportation of Bobby was in direct contravention of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement signed in Washington D.C. in 1973 and eventually ratified by Italy in 1979. CITES binds parties to pass appropriate national legislation to allow its implementation, but it took the Italian Parliament until 1992 to do this (Legge 7 Febbraio 1992, n. 150, if you must know). It was only then that the Italian authorities were in a position “to penalize trade in, or possession of, such specimens,” and “to provide the confiscation or return to the State of export of such specimens.” 

“The Italian Parliament took thirteen years, one month and 22 days to translate into Italian the Latin expression nulla poena sine lege,” quipped professor of international law Tullio Scovazzi in the European Environmental Law Review

Bobby was confiscated from the circus, but instead of being repatriated to Equatorial Guinea ended up under the custodianship of the Giardino Zoologico di Roma. There, he lived alongside Romana, a female gorilla of a similar age that had been born in captivity in 1980. According to a history of gorillas at Rome Zoo, Bobby’s new situation resulted in “a considerable improvement both in the physical aspect and the behavioural profile.” When the “ape house” finally closed in 2000 and became a restaurant, Bobby and Romana moved to Bristol Zoo. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails