Symbio monkey trader's texts 'disgraceful' - zookeeper

John Radnidge keeps watch over the cordoned off marmoset enclosure on Monday. Picture: Sylvia Liber

John Radnidge keeps watch over the cordoned off marmoset enclosure on Monday. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Symbio Wildlife Park keeper John Radnidge has wished tough justice on a confessed monkey trader who procured, then attempted to sell, one of three pygmy marmosets stolen from the zoo at the weekend. 

A trail of text messages aired in Campbelltown Local court on Monday showed 23-year-old Jackson George initially offered to buy all three monkeys. 

Mr Radnidge said the texts, showing George upheld his offer even when told the monkeys were stolen from a zoo, made him deserving of public contempt. 

“It’s disgraceful,” Mr Radnidge said.  “All you need to do is have a look at the public reaction in relation to these people. They had to close down their Facebook sites because they were bombarded with abuse. 

“The general public spoke on our behalf.” 

In court on Monday, George’s brother Jesse, 26, was fined $1500 and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond for his role in the affair. He admitted to transporting the youngest of the stolen monkeys to the Appin Hotel for a sale arranged by his brother, but ultimately foiled by police. 

Police told the court Jackson George, once arrested, declined to help detectives find the remaining monkeys, telling them “you have my phone, you’ll work it out’.”

“I hope the courts take those comments and his reaction into consideration and impose the appropriate sentence when [Jackson George returns] to court in January," Mr Radnidge said. “I don’t think [Jesse George’s} sentence was adequate. Hopefully the sentencing of the brother will be far more significant.”

Police recovered a 10-month-old marmoset in Campbelltown on Sunday. 

Shielded from onlookers, the pygmy family was made whole again on Monday night when the last of the missing three – father Gomez – was returned to the enclosure, having been dropped off outside a Tahmoor vet clinic.

Mr Radnidge, his wife Margaret and their son John and daughter-in-law Kylie woke from their beds to make preparations for Gomez’s return.

The monkey patriarch “extremely stressed” and the enclosure would remain closed to the public until at least the weekend as the family was given time and space to re-establish its complex social structure, Mr Radnidge said. 

“They’re reliant on each other for survival,” Mr Radnidge said. “The mum and dad live together forever and the dad shares responsibility for caring for the young. 

“Gomez is a particularly good father. He was away for 72 hours. One by one he had (his two children) torn from him and he was left on his own.”

 Mr Radnidge paid tribute to the “dedicated and relentless” police work, and the public support, that had led to the monkeys’ return. 

Meantime, the Radnidges are at a loss to explain one of the text messages aired in court on Monday, which suggested a joey was also stolen from the zoo. 

“All our [joeys] are accounted for,” he said. 

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