Banana Sam, a squirrel monkey, has been snatched from the San Francisco Zoo.
Not only has the zoo stepped up its security, it is offering a $5,000 reward for the return of Banana Sam, who was stolen from his exhibit either Thursday night or Friday morning, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Zoo officials have been searching for the gold-colored monkey since its disappearance.
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A 17-year-old male squirrel monkey, Banana Sam weighs about 2 pounds and is more than a foot tall. He is the oldest of the 20 male squirrel monkeys given to the zoo last year after a local research institution closed, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Two have died since they were donated, leaving 18, including Banana Sam.
Investigators believe someone broke into the zoo, cutting through a back perimeter gate and made two holes in the mesh surrounding the monkey exhibit before stealing the monkey, the Associated Press reported. Initially a reward of $1,000 was offered but it has increased to $5,000 since a private donor kicked in some extra dollars, CBS News reported.
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Two security guards were keeping watch of the 100 acre zoo on Thursday night when it is believed the break-in occurred. Since then security has doubled, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Zoo officials are concerned for numerous reasons. Since Banana Sam is older, he requires special care and a special diet to survive. Also, squirrel monkeys have sharp teeth and will bite if provoked, CBS News reported. Squirrel monkeys like Banana Sam are not endangered and are often seen in pet markets and medical research. It is illegal to own a monkey as a pet in California.
When news spread that Banana Sam was kidnapped, a fake Twitter account for the monkey was set up, the San Jose Mercury reported.
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