A highly endangered cotton-top tamarin was found dead in suburban Brisbane last month after a break-in at Alma Park Zoo. Tonto, a male cotton-top tamarin, and his female mate, Conchetta, were removed from their enclosure on the morning of October 10.
Later that day, a nearby resident reported that the family dog had discovered a dead animal in the backyard. Alma Park Zoo manager Garry Connell attended the scene with zoo staff and identified Tonto. Conchetta, the female tamarin, is pregnant and missing.
It is not known if the primate has been taken by the perpetrator or perpetrators, or if it has sought shelter nearby. There were reports of a tamarin sighting on October 12 in Surround Street, Dakabin, where the male tamarin was found dead two days earlier. Zoo staff rushed to the area but the search was called off due to inclement weather.
A post-mortem report has ruled out dog attack as the cause of Tonto’s death. The report “revealed gross blunt force trauma and major internal injuries consistent with [being thrown] to the ground and … stomped on or kicked”.
“This is a severe case of animal cruelty,” Connell said. “Extreme penalties are likely to be administered under the Queensland Animal Care and Protection Act. Cotton-top tamarins also have special protection under CITES – international legislation against possession or trade in endangered species.”
Alma Park Zoo has urged anyone with information about the stolen tamarins to call Crime Stoppers, 1800 333 000, or Alma Park Zoo, (07) 3204 6566.