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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 17:50 GMT
Rescued apes get smuggled bananas
Customs officers with the bananas
The primates passed on "a big thank you" to customs officers
Customs officers who seized 2.7 million cigarettes have given the bananas they were hidden among to a Dorset monkey charity as an early Christmas present.

The discovery was made at Poole ferry port early on Saturday.

The contraband was found with several hundred boxes of fruit, which has been given to Monkey World, near Wareham, where it will be fed to the animals.

The cigarettes, which were hidden to avoid 472,000 of duty, were found in a lorry arriving from Cherbourg.

Banana headache

Bob Gaiger, HM Revenue and Customs spokesman, said: "The disposal of over 500 boxes of bananas could have been a bit of a headache.

"But we're delighted to have found a way of putting the bananas to such a good use by giving them the primates at Monkey World as an early Christmas present."

Lou Matthews, communications manager at Monkey World, said: "We are extremely grateful to HM Revenue & Customs for this donation and the primates say a big thank you for the bananas.

"Donations such as this are always welcomed."

The Irish driver of the lorry was arrested and released on police bail until 3 March next year.

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