On this London canal, a group of young friends fancy themselves as budding adventurers and amateur detectives, so armed with their walkie talkies they send messages to one another as they patrol the waterway and the surrounding streets, seeking suspicious characters. They think they have found one when a man apparently in disguise is seen loading boxes into his car and dropping what looks like hundred-pound notes on the pavement in the process. They investigate further, certain this is a criminal they have discovered, only to realise they are mistaken: it was Monopoly money the fellow dropped, and he was simply putting a box of knick-knacks into his car. But soon they will be rewarded with some really dodgy geezers...
The title of this, The Zoo Robbery, doesn't sound tremendously exciting, bringing to mind images of a couple of crims helping themselves to the till at the entrance, the sort of thing you would see in an episode of Z Cars or Dixon of Dock Green, more probably, but that title did not give away the whole story. Indeed, they were hiding their light under a bushel, for what was stolen was not cash but an animal, and not just any old animal but one that technically, as far as science is concerned, does not exist, or at least proof is lacking. Yes, all the way from the Himalayas it was a Yeti, the Abominable Snowman himself, which somehow had been captured and crated up to be transported to London for further study.
The question you may be asking yourself here is, what on Earth did this creature look like? If you were anticipating something akin to a Tibetan Bigfoot from Harry and the Hendersons, then you would be severely let down, but don’t get those expectations sky high and you may be charmed by what resembles Bungle from long-running children's television programme Rainbow had he allowed his eating to get out of hand and put on masses of weight so that he became egg-shaped. A hairy Weeble, if you will. Or maybe something else. Anyway, sporting a pouch which made it a marsupial one assumes, Yen-Yen the Yeti has developed a love of ice lollies which are unavailable in its homeland, and may remind it of said home in a chilly sort of way.
The operation to kidnap the beast involved a lure of those lollies as bait, and a large net that gathered up the furry freak to be carried by crane to the nearby canal, a slow-moving barge being the best mode of transport to get away with your cryptozoological prize, according to this. Our heroes, horrified that Yen-Yen (not too far away from a certain Doctor Who foe in appearance) has been abducted, realise what is going on having literally bumped into the bad guys earlier. Not too many famous faces in this Children's Film Foundation production, though Neil McCarthy was one of the heavies, but among the lead kids was Denise Gyngell who would go on to be part of early eighties mimetastic pop trio Tight Fit, and later Mrs Pete Waterman for a few years. What you want to know is, of course, with all that water about, does anybody fall in? Does a hungry Yeti eat ice lollies? You had baddies and a policeman toppling into the drink in The Zoo Robbery - bonus!
[The BFI have released the Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box, which includes the following films:
Also included are a special feature length documentary The Children's Film Foundation Story, an interview with Veteran CFF writer John Tully, a booklet, and three shorts from the 1950s, all with heroic hounds.]