Rare monkeys stolen from Kolkata zoo rescued, one arrested
Last Updated: Saturday, August 29, 2009, 17:24
Raipur: Chhattisgarh police have rescued seven of the eight rare Brazilian monkeys (marmosets) stolen from a Kolkata zoo early this month and arrested one person from Durg district in connection with the sensational case.

Rajesh Saikia alias Raj, hailing from Guwahati, was arrested last evening by crime branch sleuths near Khursipar gate, 40 kms from here, Superintendent of Police, Durg, Deepanshu Kabra said today, adding police were investigating whether he had links with any international racket involved in smuggling of rare animals.

Police rescued seven of the eight monkeys stolen from Alipore Zoo on August eight. Rajesh told the police that one of the monkeys had died and he had buried the body. The carcass has also been recovered, the official said.

Following a tip off, crime branch sleuths posed as traders who were interested in buying the rare monkeys, which are in high demand for zoological research due to their genetic proximity to human beings, and met Rajesh who agreed to sell the animals.

The deal was sealed after they agreed to pay Rs 10 lakh for each of the seven monkeys, the SP said, adding Rajesh was nabbed when he came to collect the money.

During interrogation, Rajesh claimed that another person Babui Bangali was also involved in the illegal trade.

"The West Bengal police have been informed and we have sent our team to nab Bangali," Kabra said.

Police are questioning Rajesh, who was in the past arrested in Pune for stealing a rare species of bird. It is being probed whether he has links to any international gang involved in smuggling of animals, the SP said.

Following the sensational theft, the West Bengal government suspended zoo director Subir Choudhury. Three persons-- an employee of the zoo and two private guards, in-charge of night security outside the enclosure of the marmoset-- were arrested.

Kolkata police had also announced a cash reward of Rs 50,000 to anyone giving information on the stolen monkeys.

In India, these rare monkeys can only be seen at the Kolkata zoo and in Mysore. Altogether 16 Brazilian monkeys were brought to Alipore zoo in 2001 but some of them perished after failing to adjust to the weather conditions.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, August 29, 2009, 17:24

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