March 4, 2024

On Sunday, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that a CPB dog had sniffed out four mummified monkeys in the luggage of a passenger returning to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection dog sniffed out something unusual in luggage from a traveler returning from Africa — mummified monkeys.

The passenger returning from a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo reported that the luggage contained dried fish, but an inspection at Boston Logan Airport revealed dead and dehydrated bodies of four monkeys, agents said. The traveler said he brought the monkeys into the U.S. for his own consumption, Ryan Bissette, a CPB spokesperson, said Sunday.

Raw or minimally processed meat from wild animals, sometimes referred to as “bushmeat,” is banned in the U.S. because of the threat of disease. 

“The potential dangers posed by bringing bushmeat into the United States are real. Bushmeat can carry germs that can cause illness, including the Ebola virus,” said Julio Caravia, local port director for Customs and Border Protection. 

Good dog! Good boy! It is to the credit of the pooch and his handler that they did not monkey around with this smuggler. The magnificent mutt is obviously a chimpion at sniffing out contraband, even if the contraband in this case was “bushmeat” and not human cargo.


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The monkey meat was reportedly destroyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – or so we hear from the ape-vine. One can’t help but think that it would have made for poor fare. The photos accompanying the report showing the confiscated material made it look, well, less than appetizing.

The bushmeat trade is a serious problem in many parts of the Third World. Unlike most Western nations, where wildlife is managed by biologists experienced in game population dynamics, commercial hunting is mostly banned, hunting by private citizens is controlled; the bushmeat trade is largely uncontrolled and often takes threatened and endangered species, including great apes. The same poachers who take bushmeat are known to also engage in other crimes involving wildlife, including such things as culling rhino horn for Asian traditional medicines and elephant ivory for the worldwide black market.

Bushmeat can also carry pathogens, including the causative agents for such maladies as tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera, smallpox, various hemorrhagic fevers including Ebola and Marburg, and prion diseases like Creutzfeld-Jacob.

So, let’s have a round of ape-lause for this sharp-nosed CBP canine! He has proven himself a primate among pooches, and if there is one thing for certain, it is that his handler is certainly grateful for his friend-chimp.

Of course, smuggling, no matter the commodity, is always a form of arms race between smugglers and border agents, all over the world. This time the malefactor was marmoset to be caught at the airport, but next time, who knows? He may use another method, say, a hot-air baboon to float the booty over the border.

I offer my ape-ology in advance for the wordplay.

This seems appropriate.