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Banana Sam, the tiny primate briefly stolen from S.F. Zoo, dies

Banana Sam -- the pint-sized squirrel monkey who gained worldwide fame after intruders plucked him from his San Francisco Zoo exhibit -- has died at 19, officials announced Friday.

The 2-pound squirrel monkey was 17 years old when he was snatched overnight Dec. 30, 2011, by vandals who cut two holes into the mesh of the squirrel monkey exhibit.

The disappearance of the 1-foot tall monkey transfixed San Francisco, especially after someone started a Twitter profile during the rush to track him down. He quickly amassed more than 2,000 followers as word of his plight spread around the world on social media.

San Francisco police officers returned the monkey to the zoo on New Year's Eve "shaking, hungry and cold" after someone who claimed to spot him in some bushes was able to coax the primate into a backpack.

The episode endeared him to zoo staff and the public.

"Banana Sam was a beloved member of the San Francisco Zoo and he will be missed by staff, volunteers, and visitors," the zoo said in a statement.

His death was attributed to complications related to heart disease, the zoo added.

Banana Sam had arrived at the exhibit four years earlier with 20 other squirrel monkeys after a local research program ended, according to a San Francisco Zoo statement on his death. 


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