LONDON British police launched a Europe-wide hunt on Friday after five monkeys, including three of a critically endangered species, were stolen from a zoo in northern England.
Thieves took the monkeys - two female and a baby Cotton-top Tamarins and two Emperor Tamarins - from their enclosures after cutting a hole in the perimeter fence of Blackpool zoo on Tuesday night.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Cotton-top Tamarins as a critically endangered species with a worldwide population estimated at about 6,000.
Police suspect the monkeys, which require specialist care, were specifically targeted and their details have been circulated to ports and airports in case the thieves try to take them abroad.
"There is definitely a market for these monkeys and we are making enquiries across Europe in a bid to try and trace them," said Andy McWilliam, Investigations Officer at the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)