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Reason why John Owen Casford stole squirrel monkey from Wellington Zoo

After this New Zealand man went on a date with his girlfriend to the zoo, he ended up in jail for three years. Here’s why. They say people will do anything for love.

For John Owen Casford, that was certainly the case.

The New Zealand man made headlines worldwide when he broke into Wellington Zoo to steal an adorable squirrel monkey for his girlfriend on April 7, 2018. Three years later, the lovestruck man has spoken out about the incident and revealed why he went to such extreme – and illegal – lengths.

“Love,” he said when asked what drove him to break into a zoo in an episode on New Zealand Today.

Casford, 23 at the time, was on a date with his girlfriend when he said: “something like out of a movie” unfolded.

“This little monkey came up and stuck its little paw up on the window against her hand, like something out of a movie, and she said, ‘Oh my god, I want one of those, and I thought, ‘F***, that’s what I’m gonna get her, I’m gonna get her that monkey’,” he said.

Wellington Zoo

“Next thing I climbed in there and went and got it, two in the morning.

“I was too scared to stick my arm in there and reach around, so I lit the lighter. I saw his little eyes looking, grabbed it, shoved it in my bag, and left.

“I make it to the fence, and it’s all electrified at the top.”

Casford said he thought he would climb the fence, but things went “real bad”.

He fell over 8 meters onto concrete and “blew all his teeth out” – literally.

He described the fall as the “meanest ground shock ever” and was starting to think, “This isn’t a good idea”. But Casford didn’t stop there – broken leg and all. After he got his leg put in a cast and his teeth fixed, he caught up with his missus for a date to go shopping because it was her birthday the next day.

He saw the police go past and started running, but with only one leg, they soon caught up with him. The day Casford was sentenced for the incident, he was also sentenced for an unrelated spate of violent offending. He had pleaded guilty to several incidents, including an unprovoked assault on a man waiting in his car at traffic lights, an alcohol-fuelled attack at a dairy in Westport, and assaults on a Wellington City Council community safety officer and a night shelter resident who refused to hand over cigarettes, according to the New Zealand Herald. The judge sentenced him to two years and seven months in prison for all the offenses.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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