A DISTRAUGHT Doncaster man is pleading for the safe return of two tame monkeys, stolen from his home.
Albert Dargue, aged 58, fears the pregnant golden-handed tamarin and her mate, worth £2,250 each, will die if they end up in the wrong hands.
The pair were stolen from a specially-adapted monkey house behind Mr Dargue’s home in Bankwood Lane, Rossington, in the early hours of Wednesday.
Mr Dargue believes at least one of the thieves may have been bitten by one of eight other monkeys in the centrally-heated shed.
He said: “I’m very worried the people who stole them don’t know how to care for them.
“I have had them for about four years, after they were rescued from an animal laboratory. When they first came to me they had no hair but I have got them back to health and the female is expecting twins in October.
“They are both on special medication and need vitamin supplements if they are kept indoors. They will die if they are not looked after properly.”
Mr Dargue discovered the theft at 8.30am on Wednesday, when he went outside and found his other monkeys running loose.
The animals have bonded so closely to him that they had made no attempt to escape from his garden - and some jumped on his shoulder as soon as he appeared.
“One of the boxes the others were kept in was on the floor so I think the thief may have been bitten and dropped it,” he said.
He has alerted vets, other monkey collectors, the RSPCA and internet selling sites, to make sure the crooks cannot sell the pair. Mr Dargue has also offered a reward for their recovery in a healthy condition.
“If the persons who stole them want to bring them back by leaving them at my front door I will not take any further legal action,” he said.
“These monkeys are part of my family and I had deliberately not given them names because I knew I would be so upset if they were stolen.”
South Yorkshire Police is investigating the break-in.
A spokesman said it was believed the suspects forced open a padlock on the shed where the monkeys were housed.
The missing animals, also known as red-handed tamarins, are native to forests north of the Amazon in South America. They are about the size of a small cat, black with distinctive golden hands and feet, and in the wild are exceptional climbers known to jump distances of up to 60ft.
“Police are continuing to investigate this incident and are working closely with the owner to identify the suspects,” said the spokesman.
Anybody who may have information about this incident is urged to contact the police on 0114 220 2020 quoting incident number 210 of July 20 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.