Recent reports from various news sources claimed that there are either missing, dead, or injured animals in the Dallas Zoo.
A series of suspicious incidents that occurred at the Dallas Zoo over a short period resulted in the arrest of a suspect on Friday, Feb. 3, concerning the missing monkeys.
Police are still looking into the man’s possible involvement in the earlier incidents.
According to the Dallas Police Department, Davion Irvin, 24, was charged with six counts of animal cruelty, with additional charges possibly forthcoming.
Harrison Edell, the executive vice president for animal care and conservation at Dallas Zoo, expressed his dismay by comparing the situation to being punched in the gut, one after another.
Dallas Zoo and Several Man-Made Holes
According to FOX4, a clouded leopard named Nova broke free from her enclosure on January 13 through a hole that had been made by humans.
This was the first of the incidents.
Authorities declared a “code blue” alert, which indicated that a non-dangerous animal was on the loose, and they closed the zoo.
They found her on zoo grounds approximately 100 yards away from her habitat after searching for her for about 6.5 hours.
The langur monkey habitat had a similar cut to the one in Nova’s enclosure the day after, but all of the monkeys were present and accounted for.
A week later, an endangered and rare lappet-faced vulture died from an unknown wound.
According to the zoo, there are only about 6,500 of these vultures left in the world.
Pin, a 35-year-old bird, was one of only 27 lappet-faced vultures kept in captivity in the United States and one of four at the zoo.
On its official account, the Dallas Zoo said on Twitter that the animal care team is devastated by this enormous loss and the unusual circumstances surrounding the death, which does not seem to have been caused by natural causes.
This weekend, our staff found that one of the endangered vultures in our Wilds of Africa habitats had died. The animal care team is heartbroken over this tremendous loss. Please keep them in your thoughts as they process what has happened. pic.twitter.com/0fqJc8Uk2Y
— Dallas Zoo (@DallasZoo) January 22, 2023
Following these incidents, the zoo increased security by hiring more staff overnight and installing more cameras.
Still, on January 30, two emperor tamarin monkeys by the names of Bella and Finn were missing from their habitat.
They were safely returned to the zoo after being discovered a few days later in the cabinet of an abandoned house in Lancaster, Texas.
Veterinarians examined the animals and found that they had lost some weight but had no visible signs of injury.
The Dallas Zoo posted on their Facebook page that they will keep a close eye on the monkeys but are right now just relieved that they are safe and back in their care.
The monkeys will have to pass a quarantine period because they were removed from the premises before they can be reintroduced to their habitat in the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo, so they won’t be returning there for a little while yet.
Dan Ashe, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums president and CEO, said that the incidents serve as a reminder that it is important to protect animals in zoos, national parks, and other natural settings.
In a statement, he added that the association supports the zoo and claims that it and its animals are the victims of acts that were probably intended to take the animals for personal use or, worse yet, to be trafficked.
The market for wildlife trafficking is estimated to be worth around $7.8 billion to $10 billion annually.
Elephants, tigers, and pangolins are just a few of the endangered species whose populations are declining due to poaching and trafficking.
Other Zoo Incidents
Zoo theft is a common occurrence.
According to Katharine Gammon’s article from four years ago in the Guardian, reports of animal theft came from 25 members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria in 2015.
Poachers broke into a French zoo in 2017 and shot, killed, and chopped off one of the rhinos’ horns.
A ring-tailed lemur was taken away from the Santa Ana Zoo in 2018 and the San Francisco Zoo the following year.
Both lemurs were safely delivered back.
Police are currently looking into the theft of a dozen squirrel monkeys from a Louisiana zoo, which happened two days before Finn and Bella went missing.
There is no known link between these two cases as of yet.
Ed Hansen, the American Association of Zoo Keepers CEO, said that the coincidence raised some questions because it is common for those who take animals out of zoos to quickly discover that they have bitten off a lot more than they can chew.
Hansen emphasized that these animals are not typical house cats; they are endangered species with unique dietary needs.
Typically, people release them after realizing they cannot control them, The Smithsonian Magazine reported.
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