Texas Police Officers Arrest 24-Year-Old Suspect in Tamarin Monkey Theft Case at Dallas Zoo
The Dallas Police Department has arrested a suspect in the theft case involving two emperor tamarin monkeys at the Dallas Zoo.
Davion Irvin, 24, was arrested in connection with the case, a Dallas Police Department spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE.
Authorities say a preliminary investigation and assistance from the public helped identify Irvin as a suspect. On Thursday, Dallas police officers received a tip that Irvin had been spotted at the Dallas Aquarium near animal exhibits, and responding police officers saw him get on a DART rail train.
Irvin was later spotted on the 1400 block of Pacific Avenue, where police officers took the man into custody.
According to the Dallas Police Department, Irvin was charged with six counts of animal cruelty — non-livestock and was taken to the Dallas County Jail.
Dallas County Jail
RELATED: Dallas Zoo Announces 'Significant Changes' to Security System After the Recovery of Missing Tamarin Monkeys
Police officials say that the investigation into the Dallas Zoo's missing animal issues is ongoing and that additional charges are possible.
On Monday, two tamarin monkeys — Bella and Finn — were reported missing from the zoo. A preliminary investigation by the Dallas Police Department into the animals' disappearance determined that "an intentional cut" was made in their enclosure at the zoo.
A day later, the Texas police department shared an update on their Twitter page announcing that the monkeys were found at an abandoned home in the nearby city of Lancaster. The Dallas Zoo said video from surveillance cameras aided the Dallas Police Department in generating a tip that led to the monkeys being found.
Dallas Police, with the help of the Lancaster Police Department, located the two missing tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo at an abandoned home in Lancaster.
Pictured is one of the animals still inside the closet of the house.
The monkeys have been returned to the zoo. pic.twitter.com/vfWj7aAt3T
— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) February 1, 2023
The zoo told PEOPLE that the facility's staff was "thrilled beyond belief" that the two emperor tamarin monkeys were found and that they would review the zoo's security system, as the tamarin monkeys weren't the only animals to go missing from the zoo recently.
RELATED: Tamarin Monkeys Reported Missing from Dallas Zoo Located Inside a Closet at an Abandoned Home
A 4-year-old clouded leopard named Nova went missing from the Dallas Zoo on Jan. 13, prompting the zoo to close for the day. While the rare feline was eventually located near her enclosure, an investigation by the Dallas Police Department on Jan. 16 showed that a cutting tool was used to make an opening in the fencing surrounding Nova's habitat. The same type of cut was also found in the area housing the zoo's langurs, a small breed of monkey.
"Although our security program had worked in the past, it has become obvious that we need to make significant changes," the Dallas Zoo shared in a release sent to PEOPLE. "Words cannot express the frustration our team is feeling. Even with all the additional security measures we have put in place during the past two weeks, our animals and staff continue to be the target of these criminal acts."
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The zoo said it added more cameras, security technology, fencing, security patrols, and overnight staffing to prevent a new security breach.
"We have consulted with security experts and have developed new strategies for securing the 106-acre zoo," according to the zoo's press release. "Securing a zoo is a unique challenge that requires specific needs because of the environment; there is often extensive tree canopy, expansive habitats and behind-scenes-areas to monitor, and heavy traffic from guests, contractors, and staff."