Two of three pygmy marmoset monkeys stolen from a Helensburgh wildlife park at the weekend have been found alive, but one remains missing.
Police were called to Symbio Wildlife Park about 8am Saturday, after staff discovered three Pygmy Marmoset monkeys missing, including a four-week-old baby.
After receiving a tip-off via Crime Stoppers, police pulled over a car at Appin about 3pm Sunday, and questioned two males. They searched the car and found the baby monkey.
A second monkey was found in the Campbelltown area later in the evening following extensive inquiries by Wollongong Local Area Command.
The two men in the car, a 23-year-old and a 26-year-old, were questioned by police, arrested and taken to Campbelltown Police Station where they were both charged with dealing with proceeds of a crime.
They will appear before Campbelltown Local Court on Monday.
Both monkeys have been returned to the wildlife park for further examination and care, while the whereabouts of the remaining monkey is still unknown, police say.
Symbio’s general manager, Matt Radnidge, said the recovered baby was “less lively” than when last observed by zoo staff.
The creature – too young to have been given a name or to have had its gender determined - is undergoing tests before staff will attempt to re-introduce it to its enclosure.
The theft had split the monkey family down the middle, dividing two sets of twins and a mother and father, and interfering with a complex social structure that may prove difficult or impossible to re-establish.
“It's hard to say how [the reunion] will go," Mr Radnidge said.
“It can depend on a number of variables. Best case is, it goes swimmingly. We’ll be doing everything within our power and drawing on the knowledge of experts in the field as well as our own staff.”
“We’re working around the clock to get the outcome we need, but we are taking things very slowly.”
News of the recovery was bittersweet, he said.
“Obviously the guys were ecstatic to hear the news, but it’s a little bittersweet at this stage because the job isn’t totally done,” he said.
Staff had been particularly worried about the baby monkey, which is not yet taking solid foods and is completely reliant on its mother.
Its disappearance set in play a race against the clock, park operations supervisor Ryan Leahy told reporters on Saturday.
“Every hour that passes that this baby is not with its mother, the chance of it surviving diminishes,” he said.
Police continue to appeal for public assistance in finding the other missing monkey.
Contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to assist police.