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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

squirrel monkey stolen from Vandalur !!

If you are a Chennaite and over 50 years of age, you may recall that there once existed a Zoo nearer Moore market complex (Central Railway station) and alter shifted to Vandalur.  Earlier, it was mostly animals in cage, whereas at Vandalur most animals are in their natural environ, and look far more healthy !!

But what is a Zoological park ?  -  the model of the modern, public zoo became popular in 18th century, during the Age of Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightenment was a period in European history when science, reason, and logic were promoted as ideals of society and government. The scientific focus of the Age of Enlightenment extended to zoology. Zoos first began centuries ago as centres of entertainment to satisfy people’s curiosity about animals. Vandalur zoo is on a sprawling area, one will have to walk a lot from one enclosure to another …. .. it is well bounded too !  .. .. yet occasionally some animals (including reptiles like crocodiles) disappear !!  - recently occurred a  theft of ‘squirrel monkeys’ in an attempt that would sooner be shown in one of the movies !

Squirrel monkeys are New World monkeys of the genus Saimiri. Saimiri is the only genus in the subfamily Saimirinae. The name of the genus is of Tupi origin (sai meaning 'monkey' and mirím meaning 'small'). Squirrel monkeys live in the tropical forests of Central and South America in the canopy layer. Most species have parapatric or allopatric ranges in the Amazon, while S. oerstedii is found disjunctly in Costa Rica and Panama.The monkeys  are differentiated based on the shape of the white coloration above the eyes. Squirrel monkeys have short and close fur colored black at the shoulders, yellow or orange fur along the back and extremities, and white on the face.Squirrel monkeys can only sweat through the palms of their hands and feet. This can have the effect of making their hands and feet feel damp to the touch.

On a Saturday, the forest ranger was shocked to see the cage of squirrel monkeys with wires chopped – a complaint was lodged at the local Police Station on the missing monkeys.   Appreciably the two squirrel monkeys that went missing  were rescued at Arignar Anna Zoological Park sooner.

It is stated to be done with connivance of a temporary worker inside the zoo.  The accused posing as a visitor  cut open the chain link and got away with the squirrel monkeys.  Back in July 2020, two male squirrel monkeys were handed over to Arignar Anna Zoological Park by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Chennai after they were seized by Customs  Authorities.   According to the press release "On February 8, the forest range officer at the zoo reported that night patrolling party when they were on rounds early in the morning found that the chain-link fencing of squirrel monkey enclosure was cut open by some miscreants and the two male squirrelmonkeys were found missing.  In addition to police complaint,   the Director of the zoo also initiated an internal investigation, and CCTV footage was screened to get clues and leads. A lot of effort was made to screen CCTV footage in the various cameras in the zoo.

There were clues of a miscreant  about a visitor turned criminal were seen and shared.  The official added that a temporary zoo worker was handed in gloves with him. Police said a contract worker at the zoo, Sathyavel, 34, had masterminded the theft on February 7. He had got a friend, Janakiraman, 21, to buy at ticket and enter the zoo that day. They waited till the visitors left and between 7.30pm and 8.30 pm cut the wires of the monkeys' cage, where there was no CCTV, and put the animals in a backpack with holes in it for ventilation.

On Sathyavel's instructions Janakiraman, to avoid cameras and watchmen, carried the backpack through a bamboo thicket to the elephant park, when the elephants were chained for the night. He then climbed a tree near the six-foot compound wall and jumped over to the Vandalur-Kelambakkam Road where Sathyavel was waiting on a bike. They went to pet trader Vinoth and sold the monkeys for 4 lakh. Tambaram police commissioner M Ravi deputed a team led by deputy commissioner Sibi Chakravarthy to investigate. Police zeroed in Sathyavel as CCTV camera footage at the gate showed him handing a backpack to a visitor entering the zoo.On checking CCTV footage from the zoo, police zeroed in on Sathyavel as he was spotted handing over a bag to a visitor.

Meanwhile, Vinoth had kept the monkeys in a fruit basket at his house and showed them to his friends, claiming to have got them from a friend abroad.Police said they could rescue the animals as Vinoth could not offer them for sale immediately as news of the squirrel monkeys going missing from the zoo had spread.S Sathyavel, D Janakiraman, Vinoth, 29, and a mutual acquaintance, Loganathan, 21, were arrested.

With regards – S.Sampathkumar
16th Feb 2022. 

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