New Zealander John Casford probably entered the monkey enclosure at Wellington Zoo "as high as a kite" with an eye on capturing one of the zoo's adorable squirrel monkeys and taking it home to his girlfriend. What happened after that is unclear. When zookeepers arrived the next morning, they found 23-year-old Casford with "a broken leg, two fractured teeth, a sprained ankle, and bruises on [his] back."
To gain entry to the monkey exhibit, Casford first "bypassed an unsecured gate [and] broke through two padlocks." He later told zookeepers that the worst of his injuries — the broken leg — had happened while he was jumping over the border fence, but that the rest were all thanks to the monkeys, who were NOT as eager to come with him as he'd hoped.
And on a lighter note, don’t try to steal a squirrel monkey. They will have none of it! Zoo Monkeys Beat up Burgla… https://t.co/QOgH9PV18h— Michelle S (@Michelle S)1536146681.0
Wellington District Court judge Bill Hastings summed up the situation pretty well during Casford's sentencing hearing:
I don't know what happened in the squirrel monkey enclosure. The squirrel monkeys know. You say you couldn't find them and I don't speak squirrel [monkey]. What I know is that 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.
l did not steal the squirrel monkey from Wellington Zoo. (But you know l would SO touch it!) #ldtouchthat… https://t.co/xfKLMzlzvC— Sarah McMullan (@Sarah McMullan)1523062147.0
Casford was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison, though his "monkeying around" wasn't the only reason for his conviction. The New Zealand Herald reported that he was already wanted by police for a series of unrelated crimes, including "an unprovoked assault on a man waiting at traffic lights, an alcohol-fueled attack at a convenience store, and assaults on a Wellington City Council community safety officer and a night shelter resident who refused to hand over cigarettes."
Judge Hastings also pointed out that if Casford had managed to capture one of the monkeys, he would have put the animal in great danger by removing it from its habitat, and may have also inadvertently caused a biohazard by bringing the wild animal into public.
@VICE Stop monkey brutality now!— Jude Kasekamp (@Jude Kasekamp)1536707750.0
Squirrel monkeys are an endangered species, beloved by zoo-goers everywhere for their diminutive stature and adorable features. With a maximum weight of 1,100 grams, the species holds the distinction for having "the largest brain-to-body mass ratio of all the primates."
Really tempted to steal a squirrel monkey— Mr. Furly (@Mr. Furly)1453066261.0
Casford probably wouldn't have been equipped to properly care for one. Twitter had some big opinions about The Great Monkey Robbery:
@VICE I guess they were not party animals— 🏳️🌈anne🏳️🌈 (@🏳️🌈anne🏳️🌈)1536735668.0
@VICE Sounds like he just fell down a lot. Primates have a pretty uniform fighting style of attacking eyes and genitals.— Frumpy Brewster (@Frumpy Brewster)1536754319.0
@VICE @vice thanks for reinforcing my healthy phobia of monkeys and primates......— Caitlin Sweeney (@Caitlin Sweeney)1536709066.0
@Nash076 Was torn about sharing this. On one hand it's monkeys. On the other hand the guy got rather hurt. On the t… https://t.co/aP3hPbonta— Ban the Nazis Jack (@Ban the Nazis Jack)1536772592.0
Don't mess with monkeys! 🐒🐒🐒🐒 https://t.co/uje8XhgNmm— Big Monkey🐵🐵🐵🐵 (@Big Monkey🐵🐵🐵🐵)1536772205.0
At least Casford will have a good story to tell his prison mates!