Texas Man Arrested in Dallas Zoo Monkey Theft
Texas Man Davion Irvin, 24, was booked into the Dallas jail on Thursday night, charged with the disappearance of a pair of Emperor Tamarin Monkeys named Bella and Finn from the Dallas Zoo.
Police were called to the zoo on Monday after zoo employees reported that the animals’ enclosure was cut open and the monkeys were missing.
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This month, the missing monkeys are just one of four strange events at the Dallas Zoo.
Earlier this month, Nova, a clouded leopard, escaped its habitat after the fence was intentionally cut open. She was found unharmed hours later.
Zoo officials then found an intentional cut in the langur Monkey habitat. No langurs got out, and none were hurt.
Last week, the zoo reported that an endangered lappet-faced vulture was found dead under “suspicious” circumstances.
The zoo would not release details about the vulture’s death citing the pending investigation, only saying the bird had a “wound.”
Police are investigating a suspicious leopard escape, a vulture’s death and likely monkey theft at the Dallas zoo @RosaFlores reports pic.twitter.com/98t8Poqcf5
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) February 1, 2023
Police accuse Darion Irvin of both theft of monkeys from @DallasZoo AND burglary that freed two Spotted Leopards before they were found on the property. Still under investigation is death of a Vulture at zoo. Zoo President thanks citizens who helped ID man. 4&6p NBC5! @NBCDFW pic.twitter.com/AVYpUElgiu
— Ken Kalthoff (@KenKalthoffNBC5) February 3, 2023
Investigators received multiple tips from the public, which helped identify Irvin as the suspect they wanted to speak to about the disappearance of the monkeys from the Dallas Zoo.
Police got a tip that Irvin was at the Dallas World Aquarium on Thursday near animal exhibits.
“He certainly met the description. Looked almost exactly like the person that I’ve seen posted online,” said Dallas World Aquarium employee Paula Carlson.
Carlson shadowed Irvin while he was at the aquarium, striking up a conversation with the man.
“He was asking me questions about the animals, and I was answering them, you know, showing him the animals, the shark, the octopus. Just trying to maintain a conversation while I was maintaining a text message with our security people here,” she said.
When Irvin left the aquarium, Carlson called the zoo, and they called the police.
Dallas Police officers spotted him getting onto a DART train and caught up to him on Pacific Avenue. He was taken to police headquarters for questioning.
Tips from surveillance images police released to the public led to a vacant house in Lancaster where police say the stolen monkeys were found and other animals, malnourished but otherwise unharmed.
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The arrest affidavit also said that in the days leading up to the monkeys’ disappearance, Irvin asked zoo employees about several types of animals, including the emperor tamarin monkeys and the recently recovered clouded leopard.
Irvin is now facing six animal cruelty charges for leaving the animals in a Lancaster home without the knowledge or consent of the property owner., two charges for burglary into a building for the tamarin monkey case, and allegedly cutting a hole in the clouded leopard habitat, which led to the escape of the animal.
Irvin does not face charges in connection to the cuts found in the langur monkey habitat, nor the death of a vulture at the zoo, at this time, as the incidents are still under investigation.
“There have been some isolated incident like this of individual animals. Maybe they were taken from a zoo, but not a repeated incident like this. This is really and truly unprecedented,” said Dallas Zoo CEO and President Gregg Hudson.
Dallas police would not release a possible motive at this time.
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