After a tip led authorities to two emperor tamarin monkeys that had gone missing from the Dallas Zoo, questions remain about their brief disappearance as police zero in on a man who may be connected to the case.
The monkeys were found Tuesday inside a closet in an abandoned home about 15 miles away, police said. Their discovery a day after they vanished follows a hike in security at the zoo in light of other recent unusual incidents involving animals and as a Louisiana zoo reported the theft of 12 squirrel monkeys over the weekend.
“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.”
Dallas police released a photo of one of the monkeys inside the closet, standing atop what appeared to be some fencing.
As the investigation continues into how exactly the moneys made it from the zoo to the home in Lancaster, Texas, here’s what we know about the case so far:
Monkeys’ removal was intentional, police say
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.
Unclear why officials want to talk to unidentified man
Before police announced the monkeys were found, they had 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.
Clouded leopard and langur monkey enclosures cut
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.
Vulture’s death deemed suspicious
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.
CNN’s Ashley Killough, Ed Lavandera, Theresa Waldrop, Rebekah Riess, Tina Burnside and Zoe Sottile contributed to this report.
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