UPDATE: Friday at 10:22 a.m.
The iconic gorilla stolen from the State Vacuum store on Kennedy Boulevard was found on the west side of Smiley Hall around 3:40 p.m. today. The life-sized replica was seen leaving campus this afternoon.
The St. Petersburg Times reported that store owner David Epstein wrote a letter to UT president Ronald Vaughn asking him not to discipline the girls caught with the gorilla, because, ‘We’ve all done something stupid. Just not all of us got caught.’
Two freshmen girls were caught with it inside their dorm room and Tampa Police have confiscated and returned the stolen gorilla to State Vacuum.
‘To my understanding they apologized [to the owner of State Vacuum],’ Cardenas said.
State Vacuum owner, David Epstein was both ecstatic and grateful to have the gorilla back in his posession.
‘It’s really good to have him back,’ Epstein said. However he noted that the gorilla was missing the Cardinals jersey and that the girls were still looking for it.
He has decided not to press charges. ‘We’ve all been young once. We all were Freshmen at some point,’ he said.
Is this end of the motorized mascot? Epstein commented that the gorilla will be placed outside of the store following the rain.
Surveillance videos at State Vacuum on Kennedy Boulevard and an article comment on tampabay.com sparked the University wide investigation on Thurday to locate animal wearing an Arizona Cardinals jersey in honor of the Super Bowl.
According to tampabay.com, security footage showed two young women, between the ages of 18-25, stealing the gorilla.
The article comment tipped UT to look in either Urso Hall or Austin Hall.
‘If you go to UT dorms the first dorm located on kennedy, it is in that dorm, the two girls are roomates, and they snuck the contraption in and wrapped it in a bed sheet!!,’ commented ‘Shawn’ on tampabay.com.
Cardenas said that UT security looked through security footage at the residence halls that were vaguely mentioned in the article comment and at that time did not find anything.
He also said RAs did a visual inspection and nothing was found. Housekeeping was also notified.