FOSTER CITY, Calif. (AP) — A San Mateo County couple was facing 20 years in prison and hefty fines for poaching after attempting to bring home a giraffe bone from Africa.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports Tuesday that Jon and Linda Grant had to pay $62,000 in fines and bribes and get the help of a U.S. congresswoman before they earned release from a Tanzania jail in January.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, stepped in to help the couple when she learned of their plight from Charlie Bronitsky, vice mayor of Foster City, the Grants' hometown.
They had purchased the bone in a South African curio shop last December for $900. When they went to catch their return flight from Kilimanjaro International Airport, that's when the trouble began. They said they had asked if the bone was legal and the merchant had assured them it was fine. And it apparently was — in South Africa. The laws are different in Tanzania, the newspaper reported.
Speier said she plans to meet with the Tanzanian ambassador to have a talk about international diplomacy.