THE miniature Poirot gorilla that went missing from Babbacombe Model Village has been safely returned.
General manager Simon Wills said a season ticket holder heard about the recent theft of the ceramic gorilla after reading about it in the Herald Express.
On Saturday, the season ticket holder was sitting in a Torquay cafe when he overheard two people having a conversation about having taken it.
Mr Wills said: "He approached them and said it was a ridiculous thing to do, and they should give it back. He arranged to return Poirot to us on their behalf."
He said he did not know anything further about the people behind the 'prank'.
Mr Wills said: "I didn't think we would get Poirot back but it's nice to see there is some honesty out there in the world. I'll be in touch with the season ticket holder to thank him."
The 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 in the model village.
They are miniature versions of the gorillas located around the English Riviera and Exeter as part of Paignton Zoo's Great Gorillas Project.
Once the model village became aware that one of the gorillas had been apparently stolen, it took a couple of days for a replacement to be created, at considerable expense, in order for visitors to be able to complete the Miniature Great Gorilla Trail.
The project comes to an end on Sunday, October 13. It is expected that the mini gorillas will then go into a permanent exhibition.