Police across the globe have seized thousands of wild animals, including primates and big cats, and arrested nearly 600 suspects in a vast crackdown on illegal wildlife smuggling, Interpol said yesterday. Covering 109 countries, the operation was carried out in coordination with the World Customs Organization (WCO), with investigators homing in on trafficking routes and crime hotspots, the international policing body said. Dubbed Operation Thunderball, the Singapore-based investigation sought to target transnational crime networks seeking to profit from wildlife smuggling activities. It was the third such Interpol mission in recent years. Among the animals seized were 23 primates, 30 big cats, more than 4,300 birds, nearly 1,500 live reptiles and close to 10,000 turtles and tortoises, Interpol said.