SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — A much-loved squirrel monkey that had been stolen from the San Francisco Zoo was found safe on New Year’s Eve, police and zoo officials confirmed to CBS 5.

Banana Sam was located around 7:30 p.m. Saturday – nearly two days after he disappeared – in Stern Grove Park, which is located about a mile from the zoo. Police said a man walking in the park who noticed a monkey hiding in some bushes and managed to coax him into his backpack.

The man then contacted the SFPD, who in turn called the zoo saying they believed they had found Banana Sam. Officers quickly delivered the 17-year-old primate, who is over 12 inches tall and weighs about 2 lbs., back to the zoo.

“We are so thankful to the community and to the San Francisco Police Department for this happy ending,” said Tanya Peterson, President and Executive Director of the San Francisco Zoological Society. “I know it’s been extremely stressful for Zoo staff during this time but we are grateful that Banana-Sam is back at the Zoo where he belongs.”

A physical exam performed at the zoo showed the returned monkey was in good health, although zookeepers described him as “hungry, trembling and thirsty.”

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

Banana Sam’s theft late Thursday or early Friday had prompted the zoo to boost security and keep their other 17 squirrel monkeys indoors.

He was taken after thieves cut through both a gate and the mesh surrounding the monkey exhibit. What motivated the thieves to swipe the monkey was not clear.

As of Saturday night, police said no one had been arrested and no suspects were identified.

A $5,000 reward had been offered for the monkey’s safe return. It was not immediately known if the man who found the monkey in the park would be receiving the reward.

(Copyright 2011 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

Comments (6)
  1. tn says:

    Hmm, a man walking in Stern Grove just happen to notice BananaSam in the bushes???? Either the man is part bloodhound or part hawk because there are countless number of dogs in that area and none of them smelled, saw or tracked a monkey? Glad the monkey was found and curious how the man happened upon the monkey (does he normally walk in Stern Grove, does he have a criminal or mental history, etc?).

  2. Karen O says:

    “…we are grateful that Banana-Sam is back at the Zoo where he belongs.”
    Actually this little monkey IS NOT where he belongs, he belongs in the wild with the other squirrel monkeys. It would be nice to believe that zoos are trying to re-establish animals in the wild, but it’s so much propaganda.

    But I am glad he is safe and out of the hands of whatever people chose to kidnap him.

    1. Girly Monkey says:

      There is very little difference in resemblance between a girly monkey and a ugly chihuahua.

  3. George Barantseff says:

    Is it normal for someone to go for a walk in Stern Grove Park at 7:30 PM..? Is it brightly lit..? Are there many people who just casually stroll that area of that time of night…? Is this guy who “found” Bannna Sam” a local resident..? Is he known for having a habit of walking around a park in the dark of night..?

  4. bhf says:

    Once an animal is placed in a zoo, whether it was from the wild or born there, it is not ok to release it to the wild. These animals are not conditioned to the natural habitat and would not survive. To introduce the animal to the wild would also disrupt any natural “balance” that may be there already
    A Zoo is good for studying these animals and learning how to better care for the wild animals that we have. The Zoo also enlightens our awareness of the need to maintain the diversity of animals in the wild.

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