Two emperor tamarin monkeys missing from the Dallas Zoo were found in the closet of an abandoned home in a suburb south of Dallas after investigators received a tip, police said Tuesday.
“Dallas police received a tip the monkeys may be at an abandoned home in Lancaster,” the department said Tuesday evening. “Dallas police, with Lancaster police, went to the home and the home was empty and the monkeys were found in a closet.”
The monkeys were thought to have been stolen Monday, the zoo said earlier.
“We are thrilled beyond belief to share that our two emperor tamarin monkeys have been found,” the zoo said in a statement earlier. Police “called our team to come secure and transport the tamarins back to the Zoo,” the zoo said.
Police earlier tweeted a photo of a man they said they wanted to speak to in connection with the animals’ disappearance. Investigators still want to speak with that man, Dallas police spokesperson Kristin Lowman told CNN Tuesday night.
Police have not elaborated about why they want to speak to the man, and no arrests have been made.
Lancaster is a city roughly a 15-mile drive south of the zoo.
The monkeys will be evaluated by veterinarians Tuesday evening, according to the zoo.
Dallas police earlier said its preliminary investigation found the emperor tamarin monkeys’ habitat had been intentionally cut open and “it is believed the animals were intentionally taken from the enclosure.”
On Tuesday – before they announced the monkeys were found – they released surveillance video and a photo of an unidentified man they wanted to speak to about the case.
In the surveillance video, the man can be seen walking slowly down a nearly empty zoo sidewalk, looking back and forth as he moves. A second person also can be seen in the background, but that person walks in the opposite direction.
In the still image, the man is wearing a navy blue hooded sweatshirt and a navy and red beanie cap and is eating a bag of Doritos.
The investigation comes after a series of suspicious animal incidents this month at the Dallas Zoo. The zoo said it believed two of its emperor tamarin monkeys were stolen after they were discovered missing from their enclosure Monday.
“Emperor tamarin monkeys would likely stay close to home – the Zoo searched near their habitat and across Zoo grounds and did not locate them,” the zoo said in a statement Monday.
Earlier Monday, the zoo said it would be closed for the day due to inclement weather. The closure was later extended through Wednesday due to an ice storm impacting the area, the zoo said.
This is the fourth time this month that the zoo has discovered its animals or their enclosures may have been tampered with, including the “unusual” circumstances surrounding the death of a vulture last week, according to the zoo.
The string of events began January 13 when a clouded leopard named Nova disappeared, prompting the zoo to close as they searched for the animal. Dallas police opened a criminal investigation after it was discovered that the fence around Nova’s enclosure had been “intentionally cut,” police said.
While the feline was found close to her habitat later that day, zoo personnel also found a similar cut had been made to the enclosure of some langur monkeys. Despite the new escape route, none of the monkeys left their habitat, the zoo said. Police said at the time that it was “unknown if the two incidents are related.”
Following the incidents, the zoo installed additional security cameras, more than doubled its overnight security personnel, increased its overnight staffing, and began limiting some animals’ ability to go outside overnight, President and CEO Gregg Hudson said.
But less than two weeks after the first discoveries, a vulture named Pin was found dead in his habitat. Hudson called the bird’s death “suspicious” and said “an unusual wound and injuries” indicated Pin did not die from natural causes.
The zoo is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect in the vulture’s death.
Dallas police are investigating all four incidents. A spokesperson said last week that the department is collaborating with US Fish and Wildlife on the investigations.
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