Banana Sam, the Twitter-savvy squirrel monkey who made headlines two years ago when he was stolen from the San Francisco Zoo and later found, died yesterday. He was 19.
According to Abbie Tuller, spokeswoman for the Zoo, Banana Sam died after complications with heart disease. "Banana Sam was a beloved member of the San Francisco Zoo and he will be missed by staff, volunteers, and visitors," Tuller said in a statement.Banana Sam was known as a staff favorite and a total "cutie" who became a local celebrity after he was snatched from the Zoo in December 2011. On the morning of Dec. 30, zookeepers arrived to find the the zoo's outside gate had been cut as well as the mesh fencing to the squirrel monkey cage. They were horrified when they saw Banana Sam was gone. They immediately issued a call for help and put up $5,000 for his safe return, noting that squirrel monkeys are high on the exotic pet trade list. The following day, a man spotted Banana Sam in Stern Grove about two miles away from the zoo. He managed to lure the little guy (he was 2 pounds!) into his backpack and carried him to back to the Zoo. It was a sad story with a happy ending -- something readers don't get to enjoy often. Afterward, kids, parents, hipsters, drunks, Republicans, and even the cold-hearted among us became instant fans of Banana Sam and his 24-hour adventure. He immediately turned to Twitter where he amassed 2,018 followers, giving his fans witty snippets of his short adventure outside the zoo. Here's some of our favorite tweets:
The security at the zoo was laughably simple to breach. Anyway, STILL WAITING for the goddam L Taraval.— Banana Sam (@SF_BananaSam) December 30, 2011
Arrived Fisherman's Wharf. People still wear fanny packs? Considering going back to zoo.— Banana Sam (@SF_BananaSam) December 30, 2011
Went to monkey bars in Golden Gate Park playground, left disappointed. #nobananadaiquiri— Banana Sam (@SF_BananaSam) December 31, 2011
That's the last time I ever crawl into someone's backpack who says we're going to an "awesome party, dude."— Banana Sam (@SF_BananaSam) January 1, 2012
Banana Sam arrived at the San Francisco Zoo four years ago with 20 other squirrel monkeys after funding for a local research program shut down. We're just glad he got to see a little bit of the world before he left it.
Gonna try and get Lifetime to make a movie about my escape. Maybe "The Day the Screeching Stopped"?— Banana Sam (@SF_BananaSam) January 1, 2012