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Thieves steal 23 animals from zoo

Thieves have broken into an Australian zoo and stolen 23 exotic animals.

The raiders struck the Australian Reptile Park in New South Wales on Sunday night and stole animals, including an alligator and snakes.

The theft has raised huge concerns about the safety of the animals.

Park workers believe the thieves knew what they wanted and targeted particular enclosures.

Exotic and native snakes, lizards, geckos, chameleons and a small baby American alligator were among the reptiles stolen.

But the public need not worry as staff say none of the animals, which have been collected over the past 10 years, are dangerous.

Liz Vella, a senior curator at the park, said: "We're very worried about the animals' safety and well being. Obviously you can imagine that some of these animals are very rare in Australia, they need specialised care, and we've put a lot of work into getting them to the point that they're at.

"They're very healthy at this stage, but if not looked after right they can go downhill very quickly."

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