It was a bizarre crime that left Sheffield farm staff devastated, and caused an outcry among hundreds of animal-lovers.
But thankfully the theft of Hannah the Mexican Red Kneed Tarantula from Heeley City Farm has had a happy ending, after she was returned yesterday.
She was found abandoned by a cardboard recycling area at the farm, three days after thieves smashed their way into a glass tank to take the exotic pet.
Hannah’s tank was gone, and she was in a plastic container, but staff say she appears to be in good health.
And it is believed that the coverage of Hannah’s disappearance in The Star and online may have caused the thief to have an attack of conscience.
Sarah Hardy, animal sponsorship, events and publicity co-ordinator, said: “We are 99.9 per cent sure that it is Hannah and have had all our photographs out to compare the markings.
“We think whoever took her has had an attack of conscience and and brought her back.
“It is all a little bit weird.
“We don’t think she was outside for very long but we have had her on a heatpad to make sure that she is kept warm.”
Thieves took Hannah on Sunday afternoon and the police were informed.
Adults with learning disabilities who run the small animal centre at the farm were ‘distraught’ at the loss and many visitors also voiced their support online.
Some even offered to replace Hannah but the farm made a direct plea for the thief to return her.
Sarah added: “We are really happy that she is back and the adults with learning disabilities are going to be over the moon.
“We were surprised that the theft of a spider caused so many people from the community to get in touch.
“People who have exotic pets offered to replace her and lots of people got angry about it, so we think the publicity really helped.”
The farm is now hoping to get a new terranium for Hannah and appealing for anybody with a spare one to get in touch.