Staff at Symbio Wildlife Park, one of the tourism gems of the Illawarra south of Sydney, were in shock at the weekend following the theft of three rare pygmy marmoset monkeys – including a tiny baby which would have died unless soon reunited with its mother.
The four-week-old baby is still dependent on its mother’s milk.
Initially, the outlook did not seem bright as there were few clues, but staff were soon heartened by a fortunate breakthrough in the case. Following a tip-off, police found the baby monkey in a car with two men on Sunday afternoon. They then found another of the monkeys, though the third one was, at that time, still missing.
Police arrested two brothers, who were charged with various offences and pleaded guilty when they appeared in Campbelltown Local Court on Monday, the ABC reported. Neither brother is alleged to have been directly involved in the theft of the monkeys.
Meanwhile, the search continued for the third monkey, an adult male named Gomez. Then, a happy hat-trick! Gomez was found alive and well yesterday. Someone had left him in a box on the front steps of a vet’s premises.
It was the best of all outcomes for staff, who had been deeply dismayed to find when they arrived for work on Saturday morning that their much loved little monkeys were missing and their cage forced open .
Gomez, a nine-month-old female named Sophia and the baby monkey had been taken, but not the baby’s mother, thus cutting off the baby from its milk supply.
The zoo posted on Facebook yesterday:
*** LATEST UPDATE – GOMEZ IS HOME!!***
We have some great news to share – Gomez was located by the Police late last night and brought back to Symbio!
Like Sofia and the baby, Gomez was received in OK condition, and very scared.
Gomez has been reunited with his family this morning and we are allowing them as much time as needed to settle back in, in privacy.
Sofia, the baby and the remaining family members are all doing well.
Our exhibit will remain closed again today to give the family time to re bond with Gomez, as we observe the dynamics within the family.
Symbio would like to thank the the Police – in particular the Wollongong Police Department and Detectives for their tireless work in the safe recovery of all three Marmosets.
Thank you to all of our followers and the overwhelming support from the general public who assisted the police and crime stoppers – You made this recovery possible.
We will keep our followers updated on how the family is recovering.
Sincere Thank You
The Symbio Family
Symbio Wildlife Park has been hit by thieves before – also targeting the pygmy marmosets which, apart from being cute, are native to South America and the world’s smallest monkeys..
In May 2010, four pygmy marmosets and four cotton top tamarins were taken from their enclosures. Some were recovered soon after but one of the pygmy marmosets was not seen again.
Following the 2010 incident, two Sydney youths were arrested. An 18-year-old pleaded guilty in Parramatta Local Court to disposing of stolen property and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service work. A 17-year-old from Parramatta was issued with a youth caution for being an accessory before the fact to a serious offence.
Written by Peter Needham