Armed men steal endangered birds from zoo

January 20, 2008 5:55:40 AM PST

National police are investigating Friday's robbery of a raccoon, five bicolored toucans, nine parrots and a macaw that were being rehabilitated in the zoo's rescue center, Managua zoo director Marina Arguello told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

The suspects broke into the rear of the zoo, overpowered a security guard and headed directly for the rescue center, where they seized the animals, all of which are species in danger of extinction, Arguello said.

"The toucans, whose colors are of an unparalleled beauty, had been prepared for reproduction," she added.

Arguello called the loss "incalculable" but said the birds have a black-market value of up to $1,000 each.