Banana Sam Returns.JPG

A squirrel monkey stolen from the San Francisco Zoo on Friday was found in Stern Grove and has been returned, zoo officials said Saturday evening.

The 17-year-old money, known as Banana-Sam, was found around 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

San Francisco police said a caller reported that he was walking in Stern Grove when he saw the monkey appear from the bushes. The caller said he was able to coax the monkey into his backpack, and then called authorities.

Zoo staff confirmed the monkey’s identity and determined that while he was hungry, trembling and thirsty, he was physically healthy.

“We are so grateful to the community and to the San Francisco Police Department for this happy ending,” said Tanya Peterson, zoo president and director. “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.”

Banana-Sam was discovered missing Friday from an exhibit that had been breached by vandals, according to zoo officials. The vandals cut a perimeter gate overnight, climbed on top of a roof sheltering five primate exhibits and cut two holes into the mesh of the squirrel monkey exhibit.

Banana-Sam arrived at the zoo with 20 other squirrel monkeys after funding for a local research program was discontinued.

He weighs approximately 2 pounds and is more than a foot tall, zoo officials said. Despite the monkey’s small and cute appearance, zoo officials noted at the time that he has extremely sharp teeth and “will definitely bite if provoked.”

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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