Stolen monkeys returned to park

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UPDATED: Despair turned to relief at a private animal park in Oslo during the night: Two stolen dwarf monkeys known as cotton-top tamarin (Sanguinus oedipus) were returned and appear to be in good shape.

The Oslo Reptile Park released this photo of the missing dwarf monkeys known as "silkeape" or "cotton-top tamarin," and issued a plea for their return. The small animals weigh less than a pound and are among the world's smallest primates. PHOTO: Oslo Reptile Park

The Oslo Reptile Park released this photo of the missing dwarf monkeys known as “silkeape” or “cotton-top tamarin,” and issued a plea for their return. The small animals weigh less than a pound and are among the world’s smallest primates. PHOTO: Oslo Reptile Park

“We still know very little about what actually happened and who was behind it, but the most important thing right now is that the animals are back and they’re safe,” wrote their minder, Camilla Bjerke, in a message to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Wednesday night.

The two small primates were missing when employees arrived for work on Wednesday morning, and Bjerke feared they already had died from stress. “These are flock animals and they don’t like being handled,” Camilla Bjerke, in charge of the animals at Oslo Reptile Park, told NRK. She was in despair over the loss and pleaded for tips from the public for the safe return of the two small animals named Harald and Nano.

The monkeys left behind were also visibly upset, Bjerke said. One of the them is a brother of the missing and wasn’t eating properly. “He’s just looking for his brother,” Bjerke said.

The break-in at the Oslo Reptile Park on St Olavs Gate, in the city’s lower St Hanshaugen district, was discovered Wednesday morning when employees were met by the sight of smashed glass cages and glass on the floor. Huddled at the back of one of the cages were three frightened dwarf monkeys and a fourth was gone. Another white-eared tamarin, called silkeape in Norwegian, was missing as well. No cash nor other valuables were missing. She suspects the thieves knew exactly what they wanted.

The park issued a statement that an anonymous and regretful man who arrived at the park in a taxi had delivered the monkeys back to the park. Police had opened an investigation into the theft but park officials had later decided to refrain from filing charges in the hopes the animals would be returned. It’s illegal to keep the monkeys as pets in Norway. In Denmark, where it is allowed, they sell for as much as NOK 8,000 each. Bjerke said she had no idea whether their value was behind the theft.

“This amounts to very rough treatment of very small animals, and especially these who don’t tackle stress well,” she said. “It’s impossible to know how long they’ll survive.”

The theft comes just two weeks after partying teenagers known as russ broke into another park and aquarium, in the northwest coastal city of Ålesund, and were believed to have stolen three baby penguins. Two were later found dead inside their nesting boxes, however, believed to have been trampled by stressed parents.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund