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Stolen Monkey ‘Banana Sam’ Back Safe At SF Zoo

Stolen Monkey ‘Banana Sam’ Back Safe At SF Zoo

A 17-year-old squirrel monkey named Banana Sam who was once used for medical research was stolen from the San Francisco Zoo Thursday night, but returned unharmed on Saturday evening, thanks to the sharp eyes of a Good Samaritan.

Banana Sam was “hungry, trembling and thirsty,” after police returned him to the zoo, but a full physical examination showed he was healthy, zoo spokesman Danny Latham said in a statement.

The two-pound, one-foot-tall monkey was found by an individual at Stern Grove, a park that is about a mile from the zoo.

Banana Sam was sitting alone in the bushes when the man spotted him. He managed to coax the monkey into his backpack and then contacted police. Within an hour Banana Sam was safely back in the arms of zoo officials.

“We are so thankful to the community and to the San Francisco Police Department for this happy ending,” zoo director Tanya Peterson said.

Banana Sam’s abduction was reported late Thursday night by two security guards who were patrolling the 100-acre zoo. Vandals had cut through the netting around the squirrel monkey enclosure and helped themselves to the primate.

Zoo officials feared the monkey might have been stolen so he could be sold as an exotic pet or peddled to a medical research facility. A $5,000 reward was offered for Banana Sam’s safe return.

The monkey arrived at the San Francisco Zoo last summer along with 20 other squirrel monkeys after a local research institution lost its funding. All of the monkeys have made a good transition to their new home and have become a favorite among zoo staff. They were extremely worried about Banana Sam’s safety.

“He’s older. He has a specialized diet. He’s a very social animal,” said Corinne MacDonald, the zoo’s curator of primates. “He’s got companions here in this group that are cage mates of his that he gets along well with. And not to mention, I have a very dedicated staff that spends a lot of time with these animals. It is a huge insult to us to have someone come in and just take one away from us.”

Police will continue their search for the thieves who abducted Banana Sam.

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Photo from quinet via flickr.

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114 comments

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4:28PM PST on Mar 1, 2012

Thank you to the kind gentleman who saw and rescued Banana Sam.

11:27AM PST on Mar 1, 2012

I'm glad he's back safe and sound! I wonder what the thieves were going to do with him...

3:19AM PST on Jan 20, 2012

very glad he's safe. and @Kye J. - i second that.

11:26PM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Glad he was rescued from the research facility and is now being cared for by a dedicated staff.

5:02AM PST on Jan 10, 2012

He sure is a cute little guy!! I'm so glad he is back where he calls home.

3:15AM PST on Jan 10, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

1:28AM PST on Jan 10, 2012

Great. Thanks.

7:39PM PST on Jan 8, 2012

Good news!

6:32AM PST on Jan 7, 2012

glad his ok and safe! thanks for sharing :) hope they catch the people who took him

1:51PM PST on Jan 5, 2012

Glad he's back and safe!

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