Suspect Arrested in Dallas Zoo Stolen Monkey Case | Dallas Observer

Animal Welfare

Suspect Arrested in Dallas Zoo Stolen Monkey Case

A suspect has been arrested in connection to the disappearance of two monkeys from the Dallas Zoo
A suspect has been arrested in connection to the disappearance of two monkeys from the Dallas Zoo Dallas Zoo
EDITOR'S NOTE, 2/3/2023, 3:25 p.m.: This story has been updated with information provided during a joint press conference given by the Dallas Zoo and Dallas Police Department.

Dallas Police have arrested Davion Irvin, 24, in connection with the theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo.

According to the Police Department's statement, Irvin was apprehended following a tip on Thursday night that he had been seen at the Dallas World Aquarium "near animal exhibits." During a Friday press conference held at the Dallas Zoo, DPD spokesperson Kristin Lowman said that police felt Irvin “was looking to commit another crime” while at the aquarium.

A zoo spokesperson said that Irwin is not and has never been an employee or volunteer at the zoo and that he only had the usual access that a paying customer would. Lowman also confirmed that police believe Irvin is connected to the January tampering of the enclosures for the langur monkeys and the clouded leopards.

Irvin is not currently suspected in the death of Pin, the zoo’s 35-year-old lappet-faced vulture, who died in January as the result of what zoo officials say was an injury, which was detected during a necropsy.

Upon responding to the tip, police identified Irvin as he boarded a DART train and finally apprehended him in the 1400 block of Pacific Avenue on Thursday night. According to the department's statement, Irvin is charged with six counts of animal cruelty (non-livestock), although only five counts are listed in jail records. He is being held in the Dallas County Jail on $25,000 bond.

A photo released by the Dallas Police Department earlier this week prompted a local woman to provide police with the tip that led to the recovery of two emperor tamarin monkeys taken from the zoo. The two monkeys, Bella and Finn, were found in the closet of a house in Lancaster on Tuesday evening and were taken back to the zoo for evaluation by veterinarians. The Dallas Morning News reported on Wednesday that the daughter of the pastor of the church next to the house called in the tip.

Irvin was apprehended following a tip on Thursday night that the he had been seen at the Dallas Aquarium "near animal exhibits."

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On Wednesday afternoon, the Dallas Zoo posted an update on the monkeys to its social media pages along with a picture. “Emperor tamarin monkeys, Bella and Finn, were so happy to snuggle into their nest sack here at the Zoo last night! Our veterinary and animal care teams have said, beyond losing a bit of weight, they show no signs of injury and both started eating and drinking almost immediately once the team completed health exams on Tuesday night. We will continue to monitor them closely, but for now, we're so glad they are safe and back with us,” the Facebook post read.

The Dallas Zoo has been a focal point for news outlets from across the country since the disappearance of Bella and Finn. The incident is the latest in a series of odd occurrences for the zoo, which claims to be the largest in Texas. In January, Nova, the zoo’s clouded leopard, went missing for several hours after staff found its enclosure cut open. A week later, a 35-year-old lappet-faced vulture named Pin was found dead, the result of a wound detected by a necropsy.

During the press conference, Lowman said the investigation is ongoing into all of the current cases involving the Dallas Zoo. 
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Kelly Dearmore is the News Editor for the Observer. His work has appeared in Texas Monthly, Success, Dallas Morning News and Cowboys & Indians, among other outlets. He lives in Carrollton with his wife, kids and angelic mother-in-law.

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