France zoo searches for 'extremely rare' stolen monkeys

Golden Lion Tamarin Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Golden lion tamarins are an endangered species native to Atlantic rainforests in Brazil

Police are searching for 17 rare monkeys stolen from a zoo in central France.

Thieves took seven golden lion tamarins and 10 silvery marmosets, which all belong to the Brazilian government, from the Beauval zoo on Saturday.

"These are extremely rare, extremely fragile monkeys," zoo director Rodolphe Delord said.

Concern is mounting for the health of the animals, which need special care and a specific diet.

Mr Delord said they had been stolen by "experts" who evaded security cameras and night patrols.

"It's an outrageous theft," he told Reuters news agency.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Silvery marmosets are thought to be under threat in the wild from the loss of rainforests in their native Brazil

A tamarin could fetch between €5,000 (£3,600; $5,600) to €10,000 on the black market, the news agency quoted France-based environmental association Robin des Bois as saying.

Golden lion tamarins are an endangered species native to the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil.

One of the tamarins stolen at the weekend has an injury on its tail which needs daily attention, according to the zoo's director.

"It is essential that we find these animals very quickly," Mr Delord told AFP.

"They are very difficult to feed and should be looked after by specialists. We hope to find them very soon."

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