Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Rare monkeys found after tip-off

One of the stolen squirrel monkeys
Squirrel monkeys are classed as an endangered species

Two rare monkeys stolen from an Oxfordshire wildlife park have been found safe and well.

The pair of female squirrel monkeys, Deana and Stripe, were taken from their enclosure at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, near Burford, on Monday.

However, they were found in a box nearby after an anonymous caller contacted the park on Wednesday night.

Curator Jamie Craig said the animals would soon be reunited with the other monkeys later on Thursday.

Mr Craig told the BBC News website he received an anonymous call on Wednesday afternoon from a man who claimed to have bought both of the monkeys for 400.

Disused warehouse

"He said he did not know they were stolen before hearing all the coverage in the media and said he wanted to hand them back," Mr Craig said.

"So he arranged to drop them off in a box at a disused warehouse near Filkins and we picked them up last night at about 1930 GMT.

"They were a bit cold and a bit shaken up but otherwise seemed fine."

"We don't know if this man was involved in the theft or not, but he asked for a reward and obviously we told him we would not be paying anything to have them returned."

Mr Craig said the details of what happened have been passed onto Thames Valley Police, who are investigating the incident.

Squirrel monkeys are classed as an endangered species and there is a Europe-wide breeding programme to boost numbers.

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