Two emperor tamarin monkeys were apparently taken from the Dallas Zoo, officials said on Monday, the latest in a series of bizarre episodes that have included the escape and death of other animals this month.
The habitat for the monkeys was found to have been “intentionally compromised,” and the breach was reported to the Dallas Police Department on Monday morning after members of the zoo’s animal care team discovered they were gone, said Kari Streiber, a zoo spokeswoman, in a statement.
Other recent incidents at the Dallas Zoo — which says it houses more than 2,000 animals and more than 400 species on a 106-acre site south of downtown Dallas — have involved a clouded leopard, langur monkeys and a vulture. The recent disturbances to the animal habitats are under investigation by the Dallas Police Department, the authorities said. The police had not named any suspect or suspects in connection with those matters.
On Jan. 13, a female clouded leopard disappeared for several hours, prompting a “Code Blue” alert at the zoo, which indicates that a nondangerous animal is out of its habitat. She was later found uninjured, but a “suspicious” tear was found in the enclosure, the authorities said. The opening was not an error or failure on the part of the habitat, exhibit or keeper, Gregg Hudson, the zoo’s president and chief executive, said earlier this month.
The next day, similar cuts were found in the fencing of a habitat for langur monkeys, but all the monkeys were inside and appeared unharmed.
“It is unknown if the two incidents are related,” the Dallas Police Department said in a statement.
Then on Jan. 22, an endangered vulture died in “unusual” circumstances that seemed unnatural, a matter that is being investigated as suspicious, said Kristin Lowman, a police spokeswoman. The cause of death had not been determined as of Monday, pending a necropsy.
The zoo said that it added cameras and doubled overnight security after the leopard’s escape, but more than two weeks after the original episode the emperor tamarin monkeys seemed to have been targeted. The police said that an intentional cut was found in the monkey enclosure and that the animals appeared to have been taken intentionally. The zoo did not disclose how many animals were in the enclosure.
“Emperor tamarin monkeys would likely stay close to home,” Ms. Streiber said. “The zoo searched near their habitat and across zoo grounds, and did not locate them.”
Emperor tamarins are small monkeys native to the southwest Amazon basin and they have distinctive long whiskers that look like mustaches, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo. They live for 10 to 20 years, staying in extended family groups of two to eight monkeys.
The Dallas Zoo was closed on Monday because of inclement weather and would remain closed through Wednesday, it said on Twitter.
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