A FAMOUS talking gorilla has been recovered from a Leominster garden following an emotional appeal and an extensive 'ape hunt'.

'Rufus the gorilla' shot to fame in 1987 when he and his ventriloquist owner Jimmy Tamley, won the ITV talent show 'New Faces'.

The cabaret entertainer offered a substantial reward when the puppet was stolen on New Year's Eve, following another classic performance from the inseparable pair at the Talbot Hotel.

Jimmy admitted being devastated when the initial theft took place.

"I was absolutely gutted. Rufus has so many sentimental memories for me that he is impossible to replace. He is much more than a puppet - he is a colleague."

However, after several sightings across town, the tears of despair turned to tears of joy when the furry friend was found wet and sodden in Hampton Gardens on January 9.

Jimmy was 'over the moon' with the news and offered a word of warning to his captors.

"If the police put their hand up his back, he might just tell them where he has been," he added.

It looks as though these thieves picked on the wrong puppet.