Stoned Guy's Attempt To Steal Monkey From Zoo Ends In Chaos And Prison Time


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockSep 13 2018, 10:07 UTC

"I don't know what happened in the squirrel monkey enclosure. The squirrel monkeys know,” the judge said. tristan tan/Shutterstock

If you're walking past a zoo late at night, perhaps under the influence, it’s perfectly normal to jokingly suggest you hop the fence and play with the animals. This joke, however, should always remain a joke, unless you want broken bones, some upset monkeys, and a couple of years in prison.

John Owen Casford, a 23-year-old from New Zealand, appeared in Wellington District Court last week due to his night of high jinks at Wellington Zoo in April this year, the New Zealand Herald reports.


Casford – who, in his words, was as “high as a kite” at the time – broke into the zoo hoping to catch a squirrel monkey and take it home to his girlfriend as a romantic gesture of love. After walking through an unsecured gate to the zoo, he proceeded to cut through two padlocks and make his way into an enclosure where the animals were sleeping.

What happened next remains a mystery.

"I don't know what happened in the squirrel monkey enclosure. The squirrel monkeys know,” the judge said during his sentencing. “You say you couldn't find them and I don't speak squirrel. What I know is that by daybreak all the monkeys were distressed, two of them were injured.”

Another image of some squirrel monkeys, just because. Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

Squirrels monkeys are pretty nervous little creatures at the best of times, so they were pretty shaken up by the experience. The monkeys were said to still be frightened by the morning, while another was left with bruises and scratches. One of the monkeys still continues to shown signs of stress months after the incident, according to the judge.

Casford was also pretty worse for wear from the incident. Somehow, he managed to break a leg, fracture two teeth, sprain his ankle, and get covered in bruises.

Casford's girlfriend never received her present, although Casford did receive a nice burglary charge, as well as unrelated violence charges, and a total of two years and seven months in prison.


Measuring in at just 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) tall, squirrel monkeys are native to the tropical forests of Central and South America. They were also among some of the first animals to go to space.

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