Animals at Risk: Texas Zoos Raise Awareness and Increase Protection After Recent Crimes
An individual has been arrested in connection to the suspected theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo, as well as allegedly tampering with other animal habitats at the zoo, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Davion Irvin, 24, was taken into custody and charged with six counts of non-livestock animal cruelty. As People reports, The Dallas Police Department believes that Irvin was attempting to commit another crime at the Dallas World Aquarium at the time of his arrest.
Irvin has been charged with burglary in relation to the cuts in the tamarin monkeys and clouded leopards enclosures. He has also been linked to the langur monkeys case but has not yet been charged.
Recent weeks have seen a series of concerning incidents involving the zoo’s animals, leading to increased security measures including additional cameras and overnight staff, FOX 4 reports.
A lappet-faced vulture was found dead in its habitat and the circumstances surrounding the bird’s death, which appears to be from unnatural causes, are still under investigation, according to TODAY. Irvin has not yet been charged in connection to the death.
Details surrounding the investigation, including the motive, are currently undisclosed. However, the police are aware of how the tamarins were taken from their enclosure.
Irvin remains in custody on a $25,000 bond and it is unclear if he has legal representation. As ABC News reports, the Dallas Zoo has increased security measures in response to these incidents and is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect in the vulture’s death.
The tamarin monkeys were recovered unharmed and placed in quarantine after being found in an abandoned home in Lancaster, Texas. The zoo announced that the monkeys are in good health and have shown no signs of injury or stress.
Emperor tamarin monkeys, Bella and Finn, were so happy to snuggle into their nest sack here at the Zoo last night! Our vet and animal care teams have said, beyond losing a bit of weight, they show no signs of injury. pic.twitter.com/Nf5DXvGxJX
— Dallas Zoo (@DallasZoo) February 1, 2023
“Both started eating and drinking almost immediately once the team completed health exams on Tues.,” The Dallas Zoo posted to Twitter. “They will not return to the habitat for a while – because they were taken off-grounds, they will need to clear a quarantine period before they are reintroduced to their Zoo habitat.
“We cannot thank the Dallas PD enough for their quick response and assistance in locating the tamarins,” the zoo posted. “We are pleased that video from our surveillance cameras – which we shared with DPD – seems to have been critical in generating a tip that led to the recovery of the tamarins.”
The clouded leopard, Nova, was also found near her habitat after going missing from her enclosure and suffering from intentional cuts, People reports. Meanwhile, the langur monkeys were observed to have a similar cut to their enclosure, but none had escaped.
In another alarming incident, someone cut the fence to the brown pelican habitat at at The Houston Zoo, leaving behind a four-inch gash that appeared to be deliberate, the Houston Chronicle reports. Fortunately, no animals were hurt, but the Houston Zoo is cooperating with the police in their investigation. The identity of the culprit and their motive remain unknown, as police have not disclosed any information on potential suspects.
With the recent rise in crimes at zoos in Texas and other parts of the country, The San Antonio Zoo is increasing security to protect their animals. As KENS5 reports, Zoo CEO Tim Morrow said they are working closely with San Antonio Park Police, San Antonio police and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office to mitigate risk.
Animals in zoos should be protected from those who want to steal or hurt them. Sign our petition and ask the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to mandate stronger protections and safeguards in zoos as a requirement of accreditation, and protect zoo animals in the United States!