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Two koalas stolen from S.F. Zoo found

Authorities arrested two teenagers Thursday, accusing them of stealing a pair of koalas from the San Francisco Zoo to show off to their girlfriends.

"They wanted to give them to their lady friends to impress them," police spokesman Jim Deignan said.

The two bearlike creatures, 7-year-old Leanne and her mother, 15-year-old Pat, were discovered missing Wednesday morning. They were recovered after police received a tip.

"They are okay," said zoo spokeswoman Nancy Chan.

Police said the teens are charged with burglary, possession of stolen property and grand theft. They said profit was not the motive, despite each animals' estimated value of more than $10,000.

Neither teenager was immediately identified.

Zoo officials said the thieves appeared to have broken through a skylight and slipped into the koala exhibit. The 11-pound marsupials were returned to their climate-controlled enclosure, which they share with five other koalas.

Officials said Pat came to the zoo from Australia in 1986. She has several medical problems, including a potentially cancerous mass and an infected eye.

Zoo officials had been worried because koalas are highly vulnerable to changes in temperature and have a specialized diet, eating only the freshest tips of eucalyptus buds. The plants are also their main source of water.

"Any time you put them under any stress _ moving them _ you obviously tax the energy resources and they begin burning muscle," David Robinett, the zoo's general curator, said before the animals were recovered.

"The people who took these animals probably don't know what it takes to take care of them."

After the animals were found, Robinett said they clearly had suffered some stress, but, "They immediately started eating. Eating this fast is a good sign."

"We want to let them settle back into their normal routine," he said. "We'll base our actions on how they respond."

Koalas, native to Australia, are considered threatened.

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