Squirrel Monkey 'Banana-Sam' Stolen from SF Zoo

By Adam Ramirez on January 04, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A squirrel monkey from the San Francisco Zoo named "Banana-Sam" was stolen last week. The squirrel monkey theft even encouraged zoo officials to ramp up security during the holiday weekend.

The break-in occurred either late Thursday or early Friday. The vandals cut netting around the squirrel monkey pen. Two security guards were on patrol in the 100-acre zoo at the time.

Luckily, there's a happy ending to the story. Banana-Sam was found a few days later.

A passerby saw the monkey while walking in San Francisco's Stern Grove. He managed to coax Banana-Sam into a backpack. He then alerted police, who returned the monkey to the zoo.

If caught, it's possible the thieves could face criminal charges. Animals are typically considered property. The theft however, has left authorities scratching their heads.

Officials are still unsure why Banana-Sam was stolen, though the theft seemed planned. Squirrel monkeys are cute and small. They weigh up to 3 pounds, but aren't exactly friendly. They don't make good pets, according to Tanya Peterson, the executive director of the zoo.

"He has extremely sharp teeth and will definitely bite if provoked," zoo officials said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle.

It's also not like the thieves can feed the squirrel monkey whatever they want. As an older animal, Banana-Sam has a specialized diet. The squirrel monkey is 17 years old. He was given to the zoo last year after a research institution closed.

Banana-Sam isn't the first zoo animal to be stolen. The squirrel monkey's theft is now just one of several other animal thefts in zoo history. Two teenagers were arrested more than a decade ago for trying to steal koalas to impress their girlfriends.

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