Police Charge Man In Theft Of Rare Monkeys From Dallas Zoo

Police Charge Man in Theft of Rare Monkeys From Dallas Zoo

Police Charge Man In Theft Of Rare Monkeys From Dallas Zoo

The police said the man, Davion Irvin, 24, was spotted on Thursday at the Dallas aquarium, near the animal exhibits.

DALLAS — The Dallas police said on Friday that they had arrested a 24-year-old man in connection with the theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo. The theft was one of a series of bizarre incursions that unnerved the zoo and attracted international attention.

The police identified the man as Davion Irvin and said that he was spotted on Thursday near the animal exhibits at the Dallas aquarium, about three miles north of the zoo. He was arrested a short time later and charged with six counts of animal cruelty in connection with the monkey thefts. A police spokeswoman said more charges were possible.

The police said Mr. Irvin was the man they were seeking to speak to last month when they released an image of a man walking through the zoo with a bag of Doritos. According to neighbors, Mr. Irvin had been squatting in an abandoned house in the city of Lancaster, about 15 miles south of the zoo, where the tamarin monkeys were found earlier this week.

The trouble at the zoo began in the middle of January with the escape of a 25-pound clouded leopard through a hole in the leopard’s enclosure that officials said had been deliberately cut. The animal was located a few hours later, still on the zoo grounds.

Eight days later, the staff at the zoo found the dead body of an endangered lappet-faced vulture. The police have said that the bird had “a wound” and did not die of natural causes. Federal agents joined the case.

After those incidents, security at the zoo was increased. The Dallas Police Department installed two camera towers to keep watch.

Emil Lippe for The New York Times

But then on Monday, workers discovered that the two emperor tamarin monkeys, Finn and Bella, were missing, apparently taken through a hole cut in the mesh surrounding their enclosure.

“It’s been one gut punch after another,” said Harrison Edell, the zoo’s executive vice president for animal care and conservation.

The monkeys were found the next day in Lancaster because of a tip from the family that owned the abandoned house. The family said they had been trying for months to get the squatter out of the house, and that he appeared to have amassed a collection of animals.

Neighbors said that Mr. Irvin used to live with his relatives across the street from the abandoned house, but appeared to have been kicked out of that home at some point last year.

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