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Thief Craig Deane jailed after stealing elephant tusk at Wingham Wildlife Park

A serial thief is behind bars after stealing an elephant tusk from a zoo.

Craig Deane took the ivory worth £2,500 from Wingham Wildlife Park in September last year.

The theft prompted park owners Tony and Jackie Binskin to take their ivory exhibits off display.

Craig Deane was jailed for the tusk theft
Craig Deane was jailed for the tusk theft

Deane, 39, admitted stealing it when he appeared at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court and was imprisoned for 120 days.

The sentence will run alongside a 35-month jail term he is already serving at HMP Elmley for burgling a house in Sheerness the week after targeting Wingham.

Deane, formerly of Botany Close, Sheerness, snatched the tusk from the park’s museum of natural history and ethnography just after 2pm on September 9.

It had been on display to allow people to touch it and learn about the international trade in elephant ivory.

Despite Deane’s conviction, the tusk – which was on loan to the park from UK Border Force – has not been returned.

The stolen elephant tusk
The stolen elephant tusk

Park registrar Markus Wilder said: “It’s good to hear the man responsible has been punished, but our biggest concern was getting the tusk back.

“It’s disappointing we still don’t know where it is. It was such a big educational tool for us because children rarely get to see ivory tusks up close.

“Local schools have asked when it’s coming back. We just wanted it back on display.”

The attraction has two other larger tusks, but Mr Wilder says they are under strict lock and key.

Tigers at Wingham Wildlife Park
Tigers at Wingham Wildlife Park

Park bosses have invested in extra security, including alarms and motion sensors, to ensure it will not happen again.

Last year zoos, including Howletts at Bekesbourne, were put on high alert after a police warning about poachers operating in the UK.

Bosses at the animal park enlisted a security firm to patrol the site and protect its 18 rare black rhinos, which are targeted for their horns.

It was thought to be the first time the illegal trade had plotted to raid zoos in this country.

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