Police Arrest Suspect In Dallas Zoo Monkey-Napping

A man has been arrested and charged in connection with a pair of monkeys stolen from the Dallas Zoo.

Dallas police made the announcement at a press conference Friday. The suspect, who was reportedly the same person police were looking for Tuesday, is charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty. The monkeys, a pair of emperor tamarins named Bella and Finn, were stolen early Tuesday, but were found and returned the same day.

“On Thursday night, Dallas police arrested Davion Irvin, 24, in connection with the emperor tamarin monkey case here at the Dallas Zoo,” DPD spokeswoman Kristin Lowman said at the press conference. “Preliminary investigation and help from the public identified him as the man we were looking to speak to regarding this case.”

According to police, they received a tip shortly after posting the suspect’s photo on social media. That tip said that multiple people had seen the suspect at a vacant house in nearby Lancaster, where the monkeys were later found. That house had caught the attention of neighbors because it had been previously broken into and animals had been found inside, the Dallas Morning News reported. Police responded to the tip and found the house unlocked and unoccupied. Officers found the tamarins, as well as several cats and pigeons, inside.

The suspect appeared to have thoroughly planned out his primate pilfering. According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Dallas Morning News, several days before he allegedly stole the monkeys, Irvin began asking strange questions of zoo staff, which included “obscure questions such as practices in housing and moving of animals”; and specific questions about the emperor tamarins, including how to care for them; as well as the “status and location” of the clouded leopard that went missing in January. The suspect was also reportedly seen entering areas and looking through windows around the enclosure which are not open to the public.

A separate tip led police to arrest Irvin. He was spotted Thursday at the Dallas World Aquarium, wearing the same style and color of clothing as in the photo shared on social media by police. According to an Aquarium spokesman, Irvin stopped to ask an employee questions about one of the aquarium’s animals. The employee “immediately recognized” him from the police photo. “The employee swiftly notified local authorities, and Mr. Irvin was later apprehended outside of and away from our facility,” the spokesman said.

Police saw the suspect at a DART light rail station Thursday. They later spotted him on the street, where they apprehended him and took him to police headquarters for questioning. He is charged with six counts of animal cruelty, non-livestock. He is currently being held on several bonds totaling some $25,000.

The monkeys were returned safely to the zoo on Wednesday. “Emperor tamarin monkeys, Bella and Finn, were so happy to snuggle into their nest sack here at the Zoo last night!” the zoo wrote in a Twitter thread. “Our vet and animal care teams have said, beyond losing a bit of weight, they show no signs of injury.” The animals will have to go through a quarantine period before being returned to their enclosure. The zoo thanked the Dallas PD for their efforts.

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