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17 endangered monkeys stolen from French zoo

A golden lion tamarin. Wikimedia Commons/Su Neko

Thieves broke into the zoo in Beauval, central France on Saturday night, avoiding cameras and patrols, and took seven golden lion tamarins and 10 silver marmosets.

“These are extremely rare, extremely fragile monkeys that are part of an international breeding programme,” said the sanctuary’s director Rodolphe Delord.

“The thieves were experts. They knew exactly which to take,” said Delord, adding that the golden lion tamarins belong to the Brazilian government.

A resale trafficking network to individuals is alleged.

Zoos don’t buy animals, they develop exchange programmes, so police investigations could focus on unscrupulous collectors or on the expanding market of the “exotic pets”.

According to a French environmental protection organisation Robin des Bois – Robin Hood – a golden lion tamarin could reach 10,000 euros.

The organisation has denounced a recent rise in animal thefts, especially rare species of birds and monkeys.

“It is essential that we find these animals very quickly”, Delord said, “They are very difficult to feed and should be looked after by specialists.”

One of the golden lion tamarins has an injury on its tail which needs daily attention.

The zoo hosts over 5,700 animals from 500 species, and 450 are born in Beauval every year.