Missing zoo meerkat case solved with 3 charged in Australia

SYDNEY (AP) — A man who couldn’t resist a month-old meerkat has been fined with snatching the baby animal from a zoo in Perth, Australia.

The meerkat went missing in September, the day before he was due to be shown to the public for the first time.

Zoo staff feared he had been snatched by a bird but police found him two days later, 130 kilometres (80 miles) away in the small town of Beverley.

Jesse Ray Hooker was fined 4,000 Australian dollars ($2,800) in the Perth Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to the theft. His lawyer says he “fell in love” with the meerkat on seeing it at the zoo.

A woman faces trial charged with receiving stolen goods, while another has been charged with possessing stolen goods.