After a tip led authorities to two emperor tamarin monkeys believed to have been taken from the Dallas Zoo, questions remain about their brief disappearance and an unidentified man authorities want to speak with.
The monkeys went missing Monday and were found a day later inside a closet in an abandoned home in Lancaster, about 15 miles from the zoo, police said. They released a photo of a monkey in the closet, standing atop what looked like fencing.
“We are thrilled beyond belief to share that our two emperor tamarin monkeys have been found,” the Dallas Zoo said Tuesday evening. “They will be evaluated by our veterinarians this evening.”
Their short-lived disappearance followed a recent series of suspicious incidents at the zoo involving a leopard, langur monkeys and a vulture, all of which have led to a hike in security.
Meanwhile, a Louisiana zoo reported the weekend theft of 12 squirrel monkeys.
As the investigation in Dallas continues into how exactly the tamarin monkeys made it from the zoo to the abandoned home, here’s what we know about the case so far:
The Dallas Zoo learned Monday the duo of emperor tamarin monkeys was missing from their enclosure, it said.
Dallas police concluded the monkeys’ habitat was intentionally cut open, and it was “believed the animals were intentionally taken from the enclosure,” they said.
The zoo was closed Monday due to inclement weather, it earlier had announced, with the closure extended through Wednesday due to an ice storm.
How the animals left the zoo and got the abandoned house in Lancaster is still a mystery.
Police on Tuesday released surveillance video and a photo of an unidentified man they said they were searching for and want to interview. Police have not said why they want to speak to him or when the footage was recorded, and they’ve asked the public to contact them at 214-671-4509 with any information.
The surveillance video shows a man walking slowly down a nearly empty zoo sidewalk, looking back and forth as he moves. Another person is seen in the background walking in the opposite direction.
The photo shows a man wearing a navy hooded sweatshirt and a navy and red beanie cap while eating a bag of Doritos.
A few other strange developments with animals have unfolded in recent weeks at the Dallas Zoo.
A clouded leopard named Nova disappeared January 13, and the zoo closed to search for the animal.
Police launched a criminal investigation after they found the fence around Nova’s enclosure had been “intentionally cut,” they said. Later that day, Nova was found near her habitat.
Meanwhile, zoo staff observed a similar cut to the enclosure of some langur monkeys, but none of them had escaped, the zoo said.
Police did not immediately determine whether the two incidents were related.
The incidents prompted the zoo to ramp up security, including installing more cameras and boosting overnight security personnel and staffing, its president and CEO Gregg Hudson said. Restrictions were also placed on animals’ ability to go outside overnight, he added.
Then, a lappet-faced vulture named Pin was found dead January 21 in his habitat. “Circumstances of the death are unusual, and the death does not appear to be from natural causes,” the zoo said in a statement.
The bird’s death was “suspicious” and it suffered “an unusual wound and injuries,” Hudson said.
The zoo is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect in the vulture’s death.