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Many of the 27 stolen items are immediately identifiable including two full African lion mounts, a juvenile giraffe, two infant zebras, a troop of baboons, a king penguin (the only example Turner has handled in 25 years) and a crocodile.

The burglary took place on Tuesday, March 1 at around 7.20pm at a time when neighbouring businesses had closed but traffic was still occasionally moving through security-controlled gates.

CCTV footage shows at least four men in a van (a Ford Transit Luton with grey front and white back) approach the large doors of a ground floor warehouse at the Wimbledon Stadium Business Centre, Riverside Road.

An angle grinder was used to remove the padlocks and the doors forced open. The footage suggests the van left the scene around 20 minutes later, following a car through the security gates.

Turner believes the thieves may have specifically targeted a rhinoceros head (one visible from a window) – although it was in fact only a fibreglass cast. It too was among the items stolen.

A full list of stolen items (many that would require permits to be sold legally) is available from Wandsworth Police quoting crime reference number 0304644/16.