Monkeys Stolen From Dallas Zoo in Latest Bizarre Incident
This is the fourth odd occurrence at the zoo this month.
The Dallas Zoo—the largest in Texas—is facing an unprecedented string of strange incidents on-site. Animals are seemingly being targeted: First, a clouded leopard was set free, and then a vulture was intentionally killed, just in the last few weeks. On Monday, Jan. 30, yet another troublesome situation was reported—this time involving the theft of two monkeys. Read on to find out more about the crime spree at the Dallas Zoo, and what investigators know so far about the stolen primates.
The monkeys' habitat was "intentionally compromised."
The Dallas Zoo announced on Twitter that it would be closed yesterday due to "inclement weather," with a severe winter storm potentially hitting Texas. The closure has since been extended through Feb. 1.
While the news of the closure was disappointing, the zoo's next announcement was shocking: Officials revealed that two emperor tamarin monkeys were missing as of Monday morning. "It was clear the habitat had been intentionally compromised," a tweet reads.
The zoo confirmed that these monkeys prefer to "stay close to home," but officials had no luck when searching the area near their habitat or the rest of the zoo grounds. "Based on the Dallas Police Department's initial assessment, they have reason to believe the tamarins were taken," the zoo continued.
Officials said that an investigation is ongoing, but they have yet to share additional information.
The clouded leopard enclosure was tampered with earlier this month.
This is now the fourth strange event to occur at the Dallas Zoo.
It all began on Jan. 13, when a clouded leopard named Nova escaped from her enclosure. The zoo closed for the day and issued a "code blue," which is used when a non-dangerous animal is out of its habitat. As with the emperor tamarin monkeys, the zoo didn't expect Nova to get too far, and they believed she was "still on the grounds and hiding."
Thankfully, they were correct, and Nova was found uninjured near her enclosure, where her sibling, Luna, remained. The Dallas Police Department (DPD) helped locate Nova, and upon further investigation, concluded that her escape was no accident. In a press release, police confirmed that a "cutting tool was intentionally used" to cut fencing around the clouded leopard habitat.
The following day, a second report was filed when zoo officials discovered cut fencing in the langur monkey habitat. The monkeys were still in their enclsoure and unharmed. At the time, the DPD was unsure if the two incidents were connected.
A vulture was "intentionally killed."
The situation took yet another turn on Jan. 22, when a 35-year-old endangered lappet-faced vulture was found dead in his habitat. "The animal care team is heartbroken over this tremendous loss," the zoo tweeted. "Please keep them in their thoughts as they process what has happened."
The vulture, named Pin, didn't appear to have died of natural causes, and his death was labeled "unusual." Dallas Zoo officials later confirmed that the vulture had a fatal wound, CBS DFW reported, and police are now searching for a suspect who "intentionally killed" the animal.
"We're so grateful for the support we've received as we comprehend the unexpected loss," the zoo wrote on Jan. 24. "Losing him is devastating not only to our Zoo family but also to the conservation efforts of this species. Pin will be missed dearly by everyone."
The zoo upped security measures.
The zoo said that it was increasing its security measures in the wake of the earlier incidents, including additional cameras and onsite security patrols during the overnight hours. However, suspicious activity continues—and now two animals have been taken.
Last week, Kristin Lowman of the DPD stated that officials were considering all possible suspects, including current and previous employees. "They have been conducting interviews, not only with zoo staff, but also going over and gathering any sort of video surveillance that they may have here at the zoo," she said during a press conference, per NBC DFW. "In addition, we contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife [Service], they are now assisting us in this investigation."
The zoo is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and indictment of a suspect in Pin's death. The DPD is now investigating all four incidents, CNN reported.