3 animals taken during break-in at central Ontario zoo: police


Three animals were stolen during an alleged break-and-enter at a central Ontario zoo, police said Tuesday.

The Elmvale Jungle Zoo said a tortoise, a gibbon monkey and a black-and-white Lemur were taken from the facility, which opened for the season just a few weeks ago.

“We’re absolutely devastated and just kind of baffled that anyone would ever do this,” said Marina Huygen, who works in the office at the zoo.

Ontario Provincial Police have said they’re probing the incident, which happened sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Det. Const. Chris Lesage said they’ve found two holes that were cut in the zoo’s chain link fence and said the suspect or suspects walked through a flamingo pond to gain access to the animals that were stolen.

The holes were in an area that would have been visible from a nearby road and police are hoping someone passing by saw something and will contact investigators, Lesage said.

A beer bottle was found on site, Huygen added, saying staff don’t have a sense of why the animals were taken.

The zoo, about 20 kilometres northwest of Barrie, Ont., houses just over 300 animals. After it posted about the alleged theft on Facebook, tributes to the facility poured in.

“I’m so sorry,” one user wrote. “My family and I love the Elmvale jungle zoo, always have. I hope you find your babies, my heart breaks for you all.”

But others said the animals belonged in the wild.

Huygen said the zoo gets comments like that occasionally, but there’s no indication that the creatures were taken by activists.

“We’re really, just, we’re baffled,” she said. “But we’re really just hoping to get more information and bring our babies home safely.”

Lesage said the animals taken are not domesticated.

“They may seem kind of fluffy on the outside but at the end of the day they’re not necessarily going to be co-operative,” he said.

“Let’s say it was a prank of some weird sort, hypothetically speaking, if they release them back in the wild because they don’t want to get caught, we’re concerned what that may lead to as well,” he added.

The zoo has offered a reward for the animals’ safe return.

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