A man who stole a meerkat pup that came running to him at Perth Zoo has been fined after pleading guilty to stealing the animal in September.
Jesse Ray Hooker took the four-week-old meerkitten because he told a Perth court judge that he wanted it as a pet.
Hooker played loud music to cover up the meerkat’s cries of distress as he left the zoo with the animal.
His lawyer, Chad Silver, said Hooker is very sorry and wants to go to the zoo and apologize for his behaviour. Hooker was fined $4,000 for stealing the animal.
Silver said Hooker saw the meerkat pup and fell in love with the animal.
On social media, hundreds of people expressed anger at Hooker for stealing the anger. His lawyer said while the outpouring of anger was acceptable, people should instead visit the zoo as a sign of support.
“I would encourage people to go to the zoo and see these cute meerkats and experience it for themselves. They are a very cute animal, they’re very intelligent, and they are very friendly indeed.”
It was the first time 23-year-old Hooker had visited the zoo.
The police prosecutor said Hooker jumped the glass wall to take the meerkat but his own lawyer said he’d leaned over and “scooped” it up after it “came running over to him”.
He then put it in a bag and played music to cover up the sounds of the meerkat’s cries.