Alicante Guardia Civil search for HIV-risk titi monkeys
42 potentially infected monkeys escaped confiscation in Alicante in October
The Guardia Civil in Alicante are still searching for 42 titi monkeys whose whereabouts were not established during an investigation which resulted in an illegal exotic animal trafficking operation being dismantled, and the hunt has now been intensified after one of the 25 animals which were successfully tracked down was found to be carrying the HIV virus.
When the animal traffickers were arrested in October only 25 monkeys were found, five of them dead, and the remaining 20 live animals were placed in the hands of the Primadomus refuge centre in Villena and Arca de Noé in Alicante. Seven people were arrested (4 in Alicante, two in Murcia and one in Sevilla), and house searches were carried out as far afield as Sevilla, Almería and Albacete.
However, it was only recently confirmed that one member of the Chlorocebus tantalus species (the tantalus monkey) is a carrier of both the HIV and HTLV viruses, and this has logically raised concerns that other carriers may be among the missing primates. Members of the public are warned that buying and selling these species is not only illegal in Spain without the correct documentation, but is also potentially highly dangerous.