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Man Suspected Of Stealing Monkeys From Dallas Zoo—Who Said He’d Do It Again— Indicted

Forbes 3/16/2023 Alison Durkee, Forbes Staff


The 24-year-old suspect who was arrested for stealing two tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo and tampering with other enclosures was indicted this week on felony burglary charges, court records show, after the monkeys’ disappearance gained national attention amid a string of unusual activity at the Texas zoo.

The Dallas Zoo sign welcomes visitors to the facility on February 3 in Dallas. Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. © Provided by Forbes The Dallas Zoo sign welcomes visitors to the facility on February 3 in Dallas. Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Key Facts

Davion Irvin was indicted Tuesday on two counts of burglary of a building, court records show, after being arrested in early February, and has also been charged with six misdemeanor counts of non-livestock animal cruelty.

Irvin was arrested after police were given a tip he was at the Dallas World Aquarium, where they said they “believe that he was looking to commit another crime.”

He is being held in Dallas County jail with bond set at $130,000.

Irvin’s February arrest came days after the two monkeys, named Bella and Finn, were found at a home in Lancaster, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, and were subsequently returned to the zoo.

Irvin also allegedly tampered with the clouded leopard’s enclosure at the zoo, which led to a leopard named Nova escaping her enclosure and the zoo temporarily shutting down, and police have said he’s “linked” to tampering with an enclosure for langur monkeys, but has not been charged for that.

He has not been linked to a vulture’s “suspicious” death at the zoo in January, police have said.

Surprising Fact

Irvin was arrested after a person matching his description asked zookeepers specific and “obscure” questions about caring for the tamarin monkeys, according to affidavits from his arrest reported by CNN. He said he pet the clouded leopard but was unable to catch the 25-pound animal after cutting into her enclosure. The suspect told police he would return to the zoo and take more animals if released from jail.

Key Background

The Dallas animals are part of a broader string of zoo animal incidents that have taken place so far this year, including an Andean bear who repeatedly escaped his enclosure at the St. Louis Zoo, and a Eurasian eagle-owl named Flaco who escaped from the Central Park Zoo in New York City in February after vandals cut open his enclosure. New York City officials have decided to continue letting Flaco roam wild after efforts to capture the owl failed, noting they’d continue to monitor his health but believed he could survive in the wild after he showed he was successfully able to hunt for food even though he had only ever lived in captivity.

Further Reading

Suspect in theft of Dallas Zoo tamarin monkeys is indicted on felony burglary charges (CNN)

24-Year-Old Arrested In Connection With Dallas Zoo Monkey Theft (Forbes)

Missing Dallas Zoo Monkeys Found In Home After Alleged Theft (Forbes)

2 Monkeys Disappeared From Dallas Zoo—And Police Think They Were Stolen (Forbes)

Suspect in Dallas Zoo animal thefts allegedly admitted to the crime and says he would do it again, affidavits claim (CNN)

Dallas Zoo Captures Escaped Leopard After All-Day Search Caused Shut Down (Forbes)

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