DALLAS, TX (Newsource) — After a series of suspicious animal events this month, the Dallas Zoo believes two of its emperor tamarin monkeys have been stolen after they were discovered missing from their enclosure Monday and their habitat had been “intentionally compromised.”
“Emperor tamarin monkeys would likely stay close to home – the Zoo searched near their habitat and across Zoo grounds and did not locate them,” the zoo said in a statement Monday.
The Dallas Police Department said its preliminary investigation found the habitat had been intentionally cut open and “it is believed the animals were intentionally taken from the enclosure.”
Earlier Monday, the zoo said it would be closed for the day due to inclement weather.
This is the fourth time this month that the zoo has discovered its animals or their enclosures may have been tampered with, including the “unusual” circumstances surrounding the death of a vulture last week, according to the zoo.
The string of events began January 13 when a clouded leopard named Nova disappeared, prompting the zoo to close as they searched for the animal. Dallas Police opened a criminal investigation after it was discovered that the fence around Nova’s enclosure had been “intentionally cut,” police said.
While the feline was found close to her habitat later that day, zoo personnel also found a similar cut had been made to the enclosure of some langur monkeys. Despite the new escape route, none of the monkeys left their habitat, the zoo said. Police said at the time that it was “unknown if the two incidents are related.”
Following the incidents, the zoo installed additional security cameras, more than doubled its overnight security personnel, increased its overnight staffing, and began limiting some animals’ ability to go outside overnight, President and CEO Gregg Hudson said.
But less than two weeks after the first discoveries, a vulture named Pin was found dead in his habitat. Hudson called the bird’s death “suspicious” and said “an unusual wound and injuries” indicated Pin did not die from natural causes.
The zoo is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect in the vulture’s death.
Dallas police are investigating all four incidents. A spokesperson said last week that the department is collaborating with US Fish and Wildlife on the investigations.