Officials announced that the squirrel monkey stolen from the San Francisco Zoo has been found and safely returned to his enclosure.
“Although hungry, trembling and thirsty, Banana-Sam is currently back safe,” the zoo said in a statement.
The 17 year-old monkey, known as Banana-Sam, weighs only about 2 lbs and is a foot tall. His disappearance was noticed when zoo workers found two holes cut in the mesh fence of the squirrel monkey exhibit. Upon announcing the missing primate, Banana-Sam’s keepers were careful to warn the public that he is still a wild animal, and can cause serious damage with both his bite and claws. The curator added that monkey’s often carry diseases, and can cause severe infections if they bite a human.
Corrine MacDonald, the curator of primates and carnivores, told KGO, CNN affiliate, that squirrel monkeys can live into their 20s. Banana-Sam’s age could have posed a higher risk for him outside the zoo. He needs a specific diet in order to maintain his health.
According to the San Francisco Police Department, the monkey was found on Saturday night at a park. A passer-by caught a glimpse of Banana-Sam in the bushes, and coaxed him into a backpack before calling the authorities.
The thieves’ motive is still unclear, as common squirrel monkeys are not an endangered species, and are commonly sold in pet trade markets and medical research institutions.
The exhibit has been temporarily closed, with MacDonald stating that the other monkeys were severely shaken by the intrusion and capture. She added that the zoo is now concerned about a “copy-cat” theft, and is not sure when the exhibit will be reopened.