OSAKA — Four orangutans that had been kept at a Kobe zoo left Kansai International Airport on Wednesday bound for Indonesia, to be returned to their original habitat. The orangutans had been kept at the Kobe Municipal Zoo for about eight months since it was discovered they had been kept illegally by an Osaka pet shop owner, who was later indicted on charges of violating a law for protecting rare species. The pet shop owner, whose name has been withheld, reportedly paid some 4 million yen for transporting the animals back to Indonesia. Sources said it was the first time that an individual person involved in such a case has paid such transportation fees. The orangutans will be sent to a rehabilitation center in the southeast of Indonesia’s Borneo Island to undergo training for a return to the wild. They will later be released to a suitable wooded habitat, zoo officials said.Widodo S. Ramono, a nature preservation official of the Indonesian Government’s Forestry and Agriculture Ministry, told Takeo Okubo, chief curator of the Kobe Municipal Zoo, that Indonesia will try hard to get the animals safely back to nature. Ramono visited the zoo to take the animals back to the country.
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