A RARE protected primate rescued by police during a drugs raid in the Maldives will soon be starting a new life thanks to Dorset’s Monkey World.

Ape rescue centre staff travelled to the Indian Ocean island nation as part of a rescue mission to bring the illegally trafficked Bengal Slow Loris to the UK.

Monkey World director Dr Alison Cronin is assisting Maldivian government authorities, who have made several unsuccessful attempts to transfer the primate.

Speaking to journalists in the capital Male this week, Dr Cronin said: “This has never been done before, to move endangered species overseas from the Maldives. This has been an amazing, unprecedented international effort.”

The small primate was discovered during the drugs raid in January 2012. Since then local police have cared for the animal while the Maldives’ environment ministry tried to find it a suitable home.

Yesterday, Monkey World posted an update on the ongoing rescue mission on social media.

It read: “This is most unusual for us, we don’t normally announce rescues while they are ongoing, we prefer to wait until the rescued monkey or ape is safely back at Monkey World.

“However, on this occasion and in light of the fact that there is media interest and awareness of the rescue, we ought to bring you up to speed.

“Alison is currently in the Maldives on a rescue. The rescued loris will be coming back to Monkey World to complete its quarantine period only. Once completed he will be moved to a lovely new home in the UK, where he will have a companion to live with.”

A Monkey World spokesman said more details would only be released after the loris arrived safely at the park.