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Dallas police arrest man in the case of the missing monkeys


An emperor tamarin monkey is seen perched on a branch, in this undated image taken at an unidentified location, and released by the Dallas Zoo following the discovery by the zoo of the disappearance on January 30, 2023 of two emperor tamarin monkeys (not pictured) from the city zoo. Dallas Zoo/Handout via REUTERS

Dallas police arrested a 24-year-old man over the disappearance of two South American monkeys from the city’s zoo earlier this week and charged him with six counts of animal cruelty, authorities said on Friday.

Police identified the man as Davion Irvin, with whom the department wanted to speak after the disappearance of the emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo on Monday.

The monkeys’ habitat was intentionally compromised, which led officials to believe the animals were taken. Thanks to a tip, the animals were found the next day in an abandoned house in the Dallas suburb of Lancaster and returned to the zoo.

The monkeys, Bella and Finn, were given health examinations and will spend time in quarantine before returning to their habitat, the zoo said.

“Our vet and animal-care teams have said, beyond losing a bit of weight, they show no signs of injury,” the zoo said.

The tip came from members of a church group next door to the Lancaster home, where authorities also discovered more animals, such as birds and cats, the Dallas Morning News reported, citing Tonya Thomas, the daughter of the church’s pastor, as its source.

Police declined to answer additional questions about the search of the home.

Emperor tamarin monkeys are native to South America’s Amazon River Basin. The small monkeys have red tails and long, white whiskers that resemble a moustache, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.

Their disappearance came just three weeks after a 25-pound (11.3-kg) clouded leopard escaped its enclosure through a hole that was intentionally cut in the fence. The cat was eventually found nearby.

Police continue to investigate multiple cases of suspicious activity at the zoo, including the death of a 35-year-old vulture in its enclosure.

It is not known if any of the incidents are linked.

Considered a person of interest in the case of the monkeys, Irvin was taken in for questioning and later booked in the Dallas County Jail, police said. Bond was set at $25,000, according to jail records. It is not clear if Irvin has a lawyer.