Request to transfer chimpanzee Yoko from Colombian zoo to Brazilian sanctuary

Posted in 31/07/2023

This is a letter sent by the GAP Project Spain to the President of Colombia with copies to different authorities (Minister of Environment, Director General, Mayor of the Municipality of Pereira, Manager of Ukumari Biopark and Luis Dominguez, lawyer representing the Great Apes Project Spain in Colombia) about the situation of Yoko, the only chimpanzee remaining in Ukumari Biopark after the death of Chita and Pancho, shot after their escape from the biopark on July 24.

Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Colombia: 

I write to you, with deep respect, first of all to regret the incident that occurred with two chimpanzees that escaped from Ukumari Biopark. 

On the other hand, we also write to offer the Great Apes Sanctuary of Sorocaba (São Paulo – Brazil) as a destination for the only chimpanzee remaining in Ukumari, named Yoko, where he would share his life in captivity with other of his species. 

As it is known, great apes, including chimpanzees, share with us many cognitive abilities. They are social beings and need to interact with their own kind, just like humans. Loneliness depresses them and causes them great stress and psychological illness. 

That is why we are offering to transfer Yoko to the Sorocaba Sanctuary, run by director Pedro Ynterian, secretary general of Great Ape Project International. The costs of the transfer will be paid by the Sanctuary.

Ukumarí Biopark will send, if this request is accepted, a veterinary medical team to accompany Yoko to his final destination during all the transfer process. Ukumarí Biopark only needs to provide the crate according to ITA standards to ensure adequate ventilation for Yoko. 

In any case, the Colombian State, in order to guarantee his transfer, will support, through the Ministry of Environment and Territorial Development, the CITES authorization process, and the Colombian Institute of Agriculture – ICA will coordinate with its Brazilian counterpart the animal health requirements for entry into Brazil. 

The Great Ape Project designates its Delegate in the country, lawyer Luis Domingo Gómez Maldonado, as the point of contact in the administrative process of transferring Yoko to Brazil; he will be our spokesperson with the administrative authorities to manage the corresponding procedures. 

Understanding that in the whole country, as far as we know, there is only Yoko, Colombia could be the first country in the world to declare “empty cages for great apes” throughout the national territory, in case he is transferred to the Sanctuary. It would be an example for the rest of the countries, applauded by conservation associations and, without a doubt, world news. 

Without further ado, and hoping that you will evaluate our offer positively, we send our best regards and look forward to any decision that may be taken in Yoko’s favor.