Banana Sam, a squirrel monkey who made headlines around the world in 2011 when he was kidnapped from the San Francisco Zoo, died at the age of 19 this week from complications related to heart disease, zoo officials said.
Banana Sam gained international fame after vandals cut two holes in the mesh of his enclosure at the zoo Dec. 30, 2011 and took off with the animal. A $5,000 reward was offered for his return.
He was found two days later "shaking, hungry and cold" in a neighborhood near the zoo, officials said. His kidnappers were never found.
“The public’s response to his abduction, and now to his passing, has been heart-warming,” Corinne MacDonald, the zoo's curator of primates and carnivores, said in a statement Friday. “He was much loved throughout the city and beyond.”
Banana Sam had arrived at the zoo four years earlier with 20 other squirrel monkeys after a local research program ended, according to zoo officials.
[For the record, 8:40 p.m. Nov. 23: An earlier version of this post said Banana Sam "made headlines around the world in 2001." In fact, he made headlines in 2011.]