About 150 chimpanzees who were to be moved to Florida are stranded in New Mexico after someone stole the pickup used to pull their trailer.
The Ford F-350 white pickup was stolen Friday night from a motel parking lot near Interstate 95 in Fort Pierce.
"We're terribly disappointed that someone would cripple the work of so many people who help save the chimpanzees," Carole Noon, founder of Save The Chimps, said. "We hope someone will find that truck or donate another for us to use." Ten chimpanzees arrived at the Save The Chimps compound west of Fort Pierce Friday, boosting the population to 120.
Chimpanzee movements have been suspended indefinitely because of the theft.
Noon's organization is rescuing chimpanzees who have been kept in tiny cages while being used in medical research by the Coulson Foundation.
The Florida chimps live in larger cages with access to playgrounds on man-made islands.
Chimpanzees are moved about 10 at a time in an air-conditioned trailer which was not taken with the truck. There are no signs or other markings on the truck to indicate it was used to transport chimpanzees.
Its license plate number is C549KM, and it has a generator on it to run air-conditioning for the chimpanzee trailer.
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the Fort Pierce Police Department at 772-468-1805. Information about Save The Chimps is available at www.savethechimps.org.