LANGLEY, B.C. - A spider monkey that was killed at the Greater Vancouver Zoo suffered a violent death when its mate was stolen during an overnight break-in, an initial examination of the primate's body suggests.
A necropsy on the dead monkey, a male named Jocko, indicates that it died due to a fractured skull and hemorrhaging on the right side of its brain, zoo spokeswoman Jody Henderson said Thursday.
"It definitely was a brutal death," said Henderson.
Jocko was found dead Wednesday morning and his mate, Mia, was missing following an overnight break-in at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Langley, B.C.
Henderson said it's still not clear how Jocko was injured, whether he was hit with something or thrown during a struggle.
"We're guessing either it's a blow to his head from either the instrument they used to break into the enclosure or he was thrown across the enclosure and hit the tree or the tree-house that they live in," she said.
She said the full necropsy results, which will take some time to complete, could reveal more about what happened.
The RCMP released photos of the missing monkey and pleaded for the public's help in locating it.
As of Thursday, the Mounties had received a handful of tips but there were no new developments in the case.
"Someone's going to hopefully see this monkey in their neighbourhood, on their property or in the possession of someone - obviously it's not normal to have a monkey like that," said Cpl. Peter Thiessen.
Thiessen said the police are also looking into the possibility that Mia escaped during the attack, but he said that seems unlikely.
Staff have said Mia would have returned to her cage by now if the animal left on her own.
He said investigators are still trying to figure out what may have motivated the violent break-in.
"As time goes on, speculation is that it potentially could be transported, or could be used for parts or sold on the black market for its organs - any number of scenarios," said Thiessen.
Staff with RCMP victim services have been visiting the zoo to help workers cope with the killing and theft and prepare them to explain the incident to visitors, which often include young children.
"We are not just handling the grief ourselves, but handling the grief of other people coming in," said Henderson.
"School groups are in here, so obviously there's going to be pretty distraught children."
Henderson said there have been reports suggesting Mia might be pregnant because she appears to have a large belly in published photographs.
But she said Mia is not pregnant and in fact cannot become pregnant due to fertility problems.
Spider monkeys can live up to 40 years in captivity and are typically found in the tropical rain forests of Central and South America.
Their teeth are sharp, and they have long arms and legs and tails that they use to swing from branch to branch in the forest.
Mia's theft comes just two weeks after a monkey was stolen from a zoo in the Maritimes.
A nine-month-old Goeldi monkey named April went missing from the Cherry Brook Zoo in Saint John, N.B.
The money was found two days later huddled in a small box on a street corner near a local gas station.