Where is the monkey “rescued” from Gyumri. New trends in animal trade?
In December 2019, the monkey, “rescued” from Oasis restaurant (Gyumri) by Yerevan Zoo, with the initiative of the Zoo director in duty Vladimir Simonyan was handed over to an organization dealing with animal trade called “Zoo Fauna Art”, the head of which is Arthur Khachatrian, quite famous in the circle of illegal wildlife traders.
As a result of a noise raised by activists, with the intervention of Naira Zohrabyan, member of Armenia’s Parliament, the monkey was urgently transferred to Yerevan Zoo for further care.
However, the fate of the monkey remains unknown, as the latter, with the agreement of the two state bodies, appeared in a private company, dealing with animal trade and totally uncontrolled by state bodies.
Moreover, no state body possesses complete information on how many animals are currently held in the premises of "Zoo Fauna Art" LLC, so it is simply impossible to establish control over the organization.
It should be noted that the owner of "Zoo Fauna Art" LLC Arthur Khachatryan was one of the activists advocating against the management of previous Zoo director Ruben Khachatryan.
After the appointment of Vigen Avetisyan as the head of the Environmental Inspection Body, the latter closely cooperates with "Zoo Fauna Art" LLC, entrusting even rare and endangered animals care to this entity.
It is interesting that the process of transferring the monkey was carried out without "official witnesses" and no official announcement from any of the sides. The information was confirmed by Environmental Inspectorate only after EcoNews.am environmental website published news about the transaction.
Vladimir Simonyan - director in duty of Yerevan Zoo
"One Rhesus Macaque transferred from Gyumri Oasis restaurant complex to Yerevan Zoo was transferred to ZOO Fauna-Art Rehabilitation Center for quarantine treatment and further examination",-states the announcement of the Inspection Body on December 27, whereas the animal was transferred to their facilities much earlier in November.
It is disturbing that the state control body, is actively cooperating with a company running its business on animal exploitation and has quite suspicious reputation, instead of finding a fundamental solution to a widespread problem when it comes to animal welfare, thus simply making the life of state inspectors easier as individuals and activists continue alerting about wild animals seen in cages in various facilities all over the country on a daily basis .
All this was facilitated by the new management of the Yerevan Zoo, which transferred the animal to the above-mentioned entity in order to "get rid" of the animal that was initially placed in the zoo for further care.
Vigen Avetisyan - the head of the Environmental Inspection Body
Factually the monkey, which has no status so far and is not owned by anyone, was handed over to "Zoo Fauna Art" LLC, that undergoes no state control, under the signature of Inspectorate head Vigen Avetisyan and director in duty of Yerevan Zoo Vladimir Simonyan
It is noteworthy that in 2016, Arthur Khachatryan, together with Artyom Vardanyan, the owner of "Jambo" exotic park, appeared in the center of a scandalous story related with monkey trade. Brothers Artyom Vardanyan, and Eduard Vardanyan were arrested at Kilimanjaro International Airport for trying to transport 61 monkeys by cargo plane to Armenia
The two were also accused of economic sabotage. Artyom Vardanyan said that the monkeys did not belong to him, but to his friend Arthur Khachatryan, the owner of Zoo Fauna Art. He just tried to be helpful by organizing the transfer himself. The brothers were released after spending some time in prison for an attempt of smuggling rare monkeys.
As stated above the activities of "Zoo Fauna Art" LLC are uncontrolled by the state and the owner of this facility makes decisions on his own for instance on breeding white tigers and their future translocation.
Arthur Khachatrian - the owner of “Zoo Fauna Art” company
The purpose of breeding the animals and their further fate remains unknown. The field is not regulated in Armenia and not controlled by any legal norm of state legislation.
It is also unknown what will happen with the new born white tigers, will they become pets to any local oligarch, be held in a restaurant or served as delicacy meat at someone’s table in the future.