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Cut in animal enclosure found at Houston Zoo, following Dallas Zoo crimes

Fort Worth Star-Telegram logoFort Worth Star-Telegram 2/8/2023 Nicole Lopez, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Houston Zoo reported a cut in an animal enclosure Wednesday following a series of crimes at the Dallas Zoo that led to an arrest.

Keepers at the Houston Zoo noticed a four-inch gap in the mesh of the brown pelican habitat in the Children’s Zoo, according to a statement.

Keepers immediately determined that the animals in the exhibit were secure and unharmed and alerted the zoo’s security team.

Officials at the Houston Zoo believe the cut in the fence is a result of vandalism.

All other animal areas were closely examined and nothing similar was found at the other exhibits, Houston Zoo officials said in a statement. Zoo security also informed the Houston Police Department, which sent officers out to look at the area.

“The Houston Zoo is prepared to prosecute to the fullest extent allowed by law anyone who compromises the animals in our care,” zoo officials said. “We will not tolerate the theft or endangerment of any of our animals, big or small. These animals represent their wild counterparts and are entirely dependent upon the expert care of our staff.”

Four investigations were opened by the Dallas Police Department due to missing animals and numerous cuts found in enclosures at the Dallas Zoo in the past weeks.

A clouded leopard, Nova, was reported missing on Jan. 13 and was found later that same day on Dallas Zoo grounds. She escaped through a cut in the mesh fencing of her enclosure.

Another investigation was opened after zoo personnel discovered a similar cut in the langur monkeys enclosure at the Dallas Zoo shortly after Nova was found. None of the monkeys escaped and they were not hurt.

An endangered vulture, Pin, was found dead with a suspicious wound after the clouded leopard and monkey enclosures were tampered with. Zoo personnel believe the “circumstances of the death are unusual.”

Two emperor tamarin monkeys, Bella and Finn, were reported missing on Jan. 30. Dallas police found the two monkeys the following day in a home in Lancaster after receiving a tip about their location. There were found unharmed and lost a little weight, according to Dallas Zoo officials.

Davion Irvin, 24, was arrested Feb. 2 and faces charges related to breaking into the enclosures of the clouded leopard and the langur monkeys, and for stealing Bella and Finn, according to Dallas police. Irvin was found at The Dallas World Aquarium, where he said he was planning to commit another crime, police said.

The death of Pin is still being investigated.

Irvin said that he “loved animals” and plans to steal from the Dallas Zoo again if he is released from jail, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Dallas Morning News. The affidavit said he traveled by DART train to the house where he “kept his animals” after jumping a fence at the zoo and cutting into the habitat to take the two monkeys.

Irvin was arrested on six charges of animal cruelty and two charges of burglary. His bail was set at $25,000.

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