Recently, Chris was contacted by DC Flint from the Metropolitan Police Service WCO (no relation) and asked to assist in the seizure and preservation of evidence in the case of the Tooting Common Lemur.
Chris found the initial call somewhat surreal and a fair amount of suspicion was given to the caller. He became more convinced that the call was genuine when he received an e mail subsequent to the call. It transpired that Surrey Police had contacted the Met as they had no Wildlife Crime Officers on duty to assist with the seizure of the Lemur from a Wildlife specialist In Surrey who had temporary custody of the animal because its Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) paperwork was in question.
The Lemur had been stolen along with other rare wildlife including a parrot during a burglary at a small zoo in Surrey in March 2011 and had turned up on Tooting Common in December; dehydrated and suffering from the effects of hypothermia due to the cold British weather. Lemurs need access to heated accommodation between 65 & 85 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s considerably cooler on Tooting Common in December! The Blue Cross Animal Hospital named him King Julian after the character in Madagascar, the animated film (somewhat more distinguished than his name “Lumpy”).
The Lemur had been taken by Met Police WCO to the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre
(HARC) but had then been handed to the person who runs Specialist Wildlife Services, in Surrey. He was reluctant to return the Lemur to the original loser as he believed that there was not the necessary CITES permissions in place; this was disputed by the original owner but because of the Lemur’s age which was assessed as being about 25 years old. The micro chip was unreadable by any available ‘modern’ chip scanners which were only able to read newer style chips.
As a result of this and because the Lemur was classed as Crime Property it had to be seized and for evidence continuity purposes, taken by police back to the HARC.Normally crime property would just be recorded and deposited in a property store awaiting court proceedings if appropriate, obviously Lumpy needed to be looked after, so sitting on a police station property store shelf was not an option for him!
Lumpy was assessed by the duty Veterinary Doctor as being in a fairly poor state with some evidence of long standing neurological damage which was possibly age related.
A week after being returned to the HARC, Lumpy was eating better, self feeding and grooming himself, although the neurological damage was still evident, however in time it is hoped he will be able to reintegrate back into a family group, as Lemur’s are a highly sociable primate this will no doubt improve his quality of life.