A pair of rare emperor tamarin monkeys are thought to have been stolen from a US zoo following a spate of mysterious incidents, including the suspected stabbing of one of its vultures.
The disappearance of the monkeys marked the fourth time this month that Dallas Zoo had discovered its animals or their enclosures may have been tampered with, including the “unusual” circumstances surrounding the death of the endangered vulture last week.
“Emperor tamarin monkeys would likely stay close to home – the zoo searched near their habitat and across zoo grounds and did not locate them,” it said in a statement Monday.
The dwarf monkeys have whiskers that resemble a white moustache and can be found in the wild in tropical rainforests and in mountainous regions in Brazil, Peru and Bolivia.
The Dallas Police Department said its preliminary investigation found the habitat had been deliberately cut open and “it is believed the animals were intentionally taken from the enclosure”.
The zoo had been closed to the public on Monday because of bad weather.
The first event happened on January 13 when a three-year-old clouded leopard named Nova disappeared after the fence around her enclosure had been “intentionally cut,” police said. Nova was corralled later that day unharmed after searchers found the animal on zoo grounds not far from where she lived.
As authorities were investigating Nova’s escape, they found a similar cut at the habitat that houses langur monkeys. None of the animals escaped or were harmed or taken.
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. Mr 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 (£8,000) reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect in the vulture’s death.
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