The Dallas Zoo confirmed to The Dallas Morning News the two monkeys taken from their enclosure were found alive in Lancaster on Tuesday.
Zoo spokeswoman Kari Streiber said Dallas police called the zoo to come secure and transport them back to the grounds, where they will be evaluated by veterinarians.
They will provide an update Wednesday on social media, Streiber said.
The announcement came hours after police asked for the public’s help identifying a man believed to have information about the monkeys. The department shared surveillance images of a man and said detectives were looking to speak with him, but added that “he is not a person of interest currently.”
Police said Tuesday evening that they received a tip the monkeys might be in an abandoned home in Lancaster, and they found the monkeys in a closet at that location. No arrests have been made; police said they were continuing to investigate.
Dan Ashe, president of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a group that accredits zoos, said the organization “continues to maintain utmost confidence” in the Dallas Zoo’s staff and that the zoo’s accreditation was not at risk.
“Dallas Zoo and its animals are victims of acts, presumably intended to take animals for personal reasons, or worse, to be trafficked,” Ashe said in a written statement. “AZA and its entire member community stand squarely with Dallas Zoo and condemn these acts of violence against the zoo, its animals, and the entire Dallas community.”
Two monkeys believed to be stolen
Two emperor tamarin monkeys were unaccounted for in their habitat Monday morning, and Streiber said it was immediately “clear the habitat had been intentionally compromised.” According to police, the habitat had been cut.
“We looked as much as we could out in the cold and we were hoping that maybe we’d find them, but it became pretty apparent to us just by looking at what they’d done that this was motivated to try to steal the animals,” Dallas Zoo president and CEO Gregg Hudson said.
Harrison Edell, the zoo’s executive vice president for animal care and conservation, said the incident was “offensive to the core.”
“It feels like a personal attack because it is your extended family and someone just took them away,” he said.
The zoo was closed Monday and Tuesday because of inclement weather, and isn’t expected to reopen until Thursday.
Anyone with information about the monkeys is asked to contact Detective Edwin Saracay at 214-671-4509 or firstname.lastname@example.org and refer to case No. 017547-2023.
Monkeys bring incident tally to 4
The missing monkeys were just the latest discovery at the Dallas Zoo to make headlines in recent weeks.
The first incident took place Jan. 13, when a 4-year-old clouded leopard named Nova had a day of social media fame after the zoo announced she had escaped from her enclosure. After a search involving infrared drones and a “code blue,” she was found near her habitat, unharmed.
The day after Nova escaped, officials revealed a similar cut was found on an enclosure of langur monkeys, but said all of the langurs were in their habitat and accounted for.
About a week after the habitats were vandalized, a 35-year-old endangered vulture named Pin was found dead, and zoo staff quickly declared it “unusual.” The bird was one of four lappet-faced vultures at the zoo. He had been at the Dallas Zoo for 33 years.
After the zoo’s veterinary team conducted a necropsy — or an animal autopsy — they said the bird was found with a “wound,” but declined to expand on their findings because of the ongoing investigation.
According to Streiber, the zoo has consulted with experts to develop new strategies to secure the zoo, including adding more cameras and other security technology as well as additional fence lines, more than doubling security patrols and increasing the overnight staff presence.
As they continue to work to find new ways to protect themselves, their animals and the surrounding neighborhood, Hudson and Edell both said the outpouring of support from the public has been “tremendously helpful.”
“I think sometimes the humanity of this gets lost because we want to nitpick the details,” Edell said. “In a lot of ways, this feels like it’s our zoo, because we spend every single day there. But it’s your Dallas Zoo.”