THERE'S a new Agatha Christie mystery developing on the English Riviera.
Visitors to Torquay's Babbacombe Model Village were unable to complete the Miniature Great Gorilla Trail after one of the exhibits was stolen.
"There's some irony in the fact it was Poirot who was stolen," said general manager Simon Wills.
"We need Agatha Christie to come and solve the crime."
The ceramic gorilla, which was painted to resemble the fictional detective Hercule Poirot and was small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, was one of 30 gorillas on display.
The gorillas are miniature versions of the 30 gorillas located around the English Riviera and Exeter as part of Paignton Zoo's Great Gorillas Project.
The full-size Poirot gorilla is on display in the window of Hoopers, on the harbourside.
Mr Wills said visitors were really enjoying the Miniature Great Gorilla Trail.
He said: "It might not be practical for people to find all 30 full-size gorillas, but people can see all of them here.
"We realised one was missing when a few customers said they couldn't find them all.
"There was much disappointment during the couple of days it took to make a replacement for it."
Although many of the miniature gorillas were painted by the artists that created the full-size versions, Poirot was done by the model village's own artists. Mr Wills said the stolen gorilla was probably worth between £200 and £250 in terms of the time taken to replace it.
He continued: "I was also very disappointed. This was the first time something which would be missed has been taken. We have people working in the gardens but they can't be everywhere at once.
"We rely on our customers behaving responsibly and 99.9 per cent of them do.
"Someone obviously took a fancy to it and took it. It was a selfish act with no regard for the business or the enjoyment of other visitors.
"Hopefully, the person who took it will have a pang of conscience and return it, perhaps anonymously. We would love to have it back."
The trail project ends on Sunday, October 13. Mr Wills said he hoped that after this, there would be a permanent exhibition of the miniature gorillas at the model village.
Anyone with any information about the theft of the gorilla is asked to call the police on 101 quoting crime reference FT/13/6726.
YOU could win family tickets to Paignton Zoo by voting for your favourite Great Gorilla.
First, choose your favourite gorilla from the list below:
Herbert Paignton Zoo, outside the main entrance, Paignton
Hope Babbacombe Downs, Babbacombe
GiGi Greenway House, Greenway, Galmpton
Hippocampus Guttulatus Beacon Quay, outside Living Coasts, Torquay
Misty Union Square Shopping Centre, Torquay
Francis Promenade, Torquay Seafront (opposite Princess Theatre), Torquay
Back of Beyond Entrance to Hampton Avenue car park, Babbacombe
Beverly Goodrington, Paignton (opposite Inn on the Quay)
Five Minutes to Midnight Torbay Road, Torquay (opposite Pavilions)
Dragilla Paignton Library, Paignton
Poirot Hoopers window, The Strand, Torquay
Nacho Shoalstone Pool, Brixham
Hearts Cockington Court (inside), Torquay
Flagged Victoria Street, Paignton
Hanky Panky on Holiday Castle Circus (outside the Town Hall), Torquay
Barry Vaughan Parade, Torquay
Lilo The roving gorilla
Bob Prince William Quay, Brixham
Vanilla Gorilla Fore Street, St Marychurch, Torquay
Once you have chosen, just enter the name of your favourite gorilla in our form below, and click the button to submit your entry.
You could be the winner of a Paignton Zoo family ticket!