NZ Court Hears Squirrel Monkeys May Have Bashed A Convicted Zoo Burglar

A New Zealand man has been sentenced to prison after an unsuccessful attempt to steal a squirrel monkey from Wellington Zoo, with the alleged intention of giving the primate to his girlfriend.

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John Owen Casford, 23, was yesterday sentenced in Wellington District Court to two years and seven months behind bars for the crime, in addition to an unrelated string of other violent offences.

The court heard that Casford was “high as a kite” during his ill-fated April 7 mission, which saw him enter the premises through an unguarded gate and breach two padlocks before opening the monkeys’ enclosure.

Fortunately, Casford did not smuggle one of the little simians out of the zoo. He did leave with some injuries, though.

Wellington District Court judge Bill Hastings said he couldn’t verify the exact sequence of events as “I don’t speak squirrel,” but did say “by daybreak all the monkeys were distressed, two of them were injured, and you had a broken leg, two fractured teeth, a sprained ankle, and bruises on your back.”

At a meeting with the zookeepers after the hearing, Casford said he broke his leg after tumbling from the zoo’s boundary fence. It’s currently unclear if the monkeys inflicted the remainder of the damage, but look, we simply can’t tell they didn’t. 

Not like they escaped unscathed, either. Zookeepers stated they feared one of the monkeys had escaped when they found the enclosure open the following morning, but the missing female was later discovered cowering in fear.

Other monkeys sustained physical injuries consistent with being grabbed, the court heard.

In addition to the burglary attempt, Casford plead guilty to a seemingly senseless incidence of road rage and several other assaults committed over the summer.

The takeaway here seems to be two-fold: don’t assault people, and don’t steal tiny, precious monkeys with the intention of palming them off as a romantic gift.