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.
Photo from quinet via flickr.