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Dallas Zoo says tamarin monkeys that went missing for a day are healthy and uninjured

<i>Dallas Police Department</i><br/>Dallas police asked for the public's help in identifying this person.
Dallas Police Department
Dallas police asked for the public's help in identifying this person.

By Andi Babineau, Andy Rose and Aya Elamroussi, CNN

The emperor tamarin monkeys that disappeared from the Dallas Zoo earlier this week but were recovered by police in an abandoned home on Tuesday are healthy and uninjured, the zoo said.

“Emperor tamarin monkeys, Bella and Finn, were so happy to snuggle into their nest sack here at the Zoo last night!” the zoo said on Facebook. “Our veterinary and animal care teams have said, beyond losing a bit of weight, they show no signs of injury and both started eating and drinking almost immediately once the team completed health exams on Tuesday night.”

The zoo said the monkeys will go through a quarantine period before being returned to their zoo habitat.

The zoo also noted that video from their surveillance cameras released on Tuesday “seems to have been critical in generating a tip that led to the recovery of the tamarins.” Further, there is a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person responsible, the zoo said.

The health update comes two days after the zoo said that two tamarin monkeys were missing and that their habitat had been “intentionally compromised.” The Dallas Police said they had reason to believe the monkeys were taken, the zoo said.

The disappearance followed a series of suspicious incidents at the zoo in the last month involving a leopard, langur monkeys and a vulture, all of which have led to a hike in security.

After a tip, the missing tamarin monkeys were found Tuesday inside a closet in an abandoned home in Lancaster, about 15 miles away from the zoo. The police released a photo of one monkey in the closet, standing atop what looked like fencing.

“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.”

Elsewhere, a Louisiana zoo reported the weekend theft of 12 squirrel monkeys.

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.

Police on Tuesday 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.

Zoo officials said Wednesday that security is being tightened.

“Although our security program had worked in the past, it has become obvious that we need to make significant changes,” officials said in a written statement. “Words cannot express the frustration our team is feeling.”

Security upgrades include more cameras and more than doubling the number of security patrols as well as increasing the number of people working overnight, installing more fencing and adding other unspecified security technology, according to the news release.

Other issues with leopard, langur monkeys and vulture

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.

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.

Someone set on getting in will ‘find a way’

While the incidents at the Dallas Zoo and the monkey thefts at Zoosiana in Broussard, Louisiana, have raised general security concerns, at least one zoo in Florida is not stepping up security.

There are “several security measures already in place in Zoo Miami” and only so much that can be done, said Ron Magill, wildlife expert and Zoo Miami spokesperson.

“If someone wants to get in and is determined,” he told CNN, “they’re going to find a way.”

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CNN’s Andy Rose, Jackson Grigsby, Steve Almasy, Eric Levenson, Ashley Killough, Ed Lavandera, Theresa Waldrop, Rebekah Riess, Tina Burnside and Zoe Sottile contributed to this report.

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