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Dublin: 9°C Friday 23 October 2020

'Mum cradled the baby straight into her arms': Miniature monkeys reunited after zoo theft

There were fears the baby monkey could die if it was kept away from its mother for too long

Stock photo of Pygmy Marmoset
Stock photo of Pygmy Marmoset
Image: Michael Probst/PA

TWO MEN WERE charged with stealing rare pygmy marmoset monkeys from an Australian wildlife park as the baby animal was reunited with her mum.

Three of the monkeys, the world’s smallest, were snatched from their enclosure at the Symbio Wildlife Park south of Sydney on Saturday, with police and zookeepers launching a desperate bid to locate the suckling infant.

There were fears it would die if away from its mother for more than 24 hours while keepers also worried its twin would perish because their mother was too stressed to feed.

After a tip-off from the public, two men, aged 23 and 26, were arrested and charged Monday with dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Financial motivation

Police found the unnamed four-week-old infant in the men’s car and a 10-month-old female, Sophia, at another address. But the father, Gomez, remains missing.

It was not clear why the monkeys, which are native to South America and usually about eight inches tall, were taken, but Symbio park manager Matthew Radnidge said there would have been a financial motivation.

“But in terms of value, an animal has a value of whatever someone perceives, so within the zoo and wildlife park industry, no money ever changes hands with these animal transfers,” he told ABC radio.

Black market

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph said marmosets, also known as thumb monkeys, were in demand on the black market as pets, commanding prices of up to Aus$5,000 (US$3,700).

The wildlife park said the hungry and scared baby had been reunited with its mother and sister.

“Mum cradled the baby straight into her arms and immediately began to feed. Early observations this morning are promising, with two bright eyed twins observed on mum’s back — so a great result.”

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