The Beatrice Hotel in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been charged for serving the meat of a protected animal species. The à la carte menu of the hotel's restaurant showed "smoked baby chimpanzee" as one of the dishes being served for £27. While the owner of the restaurant claims that the addition to the menu was a printing error, the director of charity group Conserve Congo claims that the dish is one which tourists and affluent locals order regularly.
The rare and illegal meat being served at the four-star hotel was called bébé chimpanzé fumé, which translates to "smoked baby chimpanzee." Eating an animal that shares about 98% of human genes might not be most people's idea of a delicacy. The endangered animal is poached for bushmeat while infants are snatched to be sold as exotic pets. While consuming chimpanzee meat is not explicitly illegal in DRC, the killing and trading of the species is illegal, which indirectly makes consumption illegal as well.
The hotel's menu has a number of dishes which require a 24-hour notice to be served. One of the pre-bookable dishes is the smoked baby chimpanzee. Charity group Conserve Congo got wind of the meat being served to locals as well as tourists. Conserve Congo filed a criminal complaint about the trading of protected species against the hotel.
According to the director of Conserve Congo, Adams Cassinga, people are attracted to eat the meat out of intrigue as well as cultural beliefs. Cassinga pointed out the local belief that by consuming the flesh of an animal, its spirit enters the body of the consumer and makes them more powerful. This cultural belief draws customers like politicians and policemen to the illegal dish.
Cassinga also claims that the meat gained popularity alongside an increase in the number of Asian tourists. Cassinga believes that Asian tourists are more willing to try the rare meat, resulting in an increase in demand.
The hotel staff denied serving chimpanzee meat. André Kadima, the owner of the hotel, claims that he was absent when the menus were printed. When he heard about the printing error, he ordered the menus to be destroyed and replaced with correctly printed ones. Speaking to The Times Kadima stated that he admires the species and understands their environmental importance. He assured that the hotel never served the illegal meat.