A 24-year-old man has now been linked to a strange series of crimes that caused animals to go missing from the Dallas Zoo. Court records show that he told police that after he stole two monkeys from their cage, he took them on the city’s light rail system to get away. The documents also said that Davion Irvin loved animals and that he would steal more if he got out of jail.
Irvin was arrested last week after he asked questions about the animals at an aquarium in downtown Dallas. On Tuesday, he was still in jail on a $25,000 bond. Six counts of animal cruelty and two counts of burglary are against him. Court records show Irvin has an attorney, but when we asked for their opinion, they didn’t answer.
According to affidavits for an arrest warrant, Irvin told police that on the night of January 29, he waited until it was dark, jumped a fence to get onto zoo grounds, cut the metal mesh of an enclosure, and took the two Emperor Tamarin monkeys. He then got on the city’s light rail and walked to the empty house where he said he kept his animals.
The police found Bella and Finn, two monkeys, at an empty house in Lancaster, a Dallas suburb about 15 miles south of the zoo, after getting a tip from a member of the public. This was the day after the monkeys were reported missing.
Affidavits said that the officers also found several cats, pigeons, dead feeder fish, and food that had gone missing from a staff-only area of the zoo earlier in January but hadn’t been reported stolen at the time.
Irvin has been charged with two strange things at the zoo over a few weeks, and police say he is connected to another. Irvin is charged with one count of burglary and six counts of animal cruelty in “The Taking of the Monkeys,” three counts for each monkey. He is also being charged with burglary for letting a clouded leopard named Nova out of his cage.
Nova was found missing on January 13. A cut was found in her enclosure, so the zoo shut down and started looking for her. She was found in the evening near where she lived.
An affidavit said that Irvin told investigators that he wanted to take Nova but that he could only pet her before she climbed on top of her enclosure.
Police say they can link Irvin to cutting a Langur monkey enclosure, which was found after Nova went missing, but he hasn’t been charged with that. The langur monkeys couldn’t get away.
An affidavit said that in the days before the Emperor Tamarin monkeys were taken, a man raised suspicions at the zoo by asking questions about moving and caring for these monkeys and the Clouded Leopard that had gotten away. He was also seen going into buildings for staff near where the monkeys lived.
After the monkeys were found to be missing on January 30, police released a photo and video from the zoo of a man they said they wanted to talk to about the missing monkeys. The tip that led police to the empty house where the monkeys were found on January 31 came from the man in the pictures, whom police later said was Irvin.
An affidavit stated that the tip came from a caller who said that multiple churchgoers recognized the man in the pictures as someone who often went to a house owned by the empty church.
Irving was arrested Thursday just a few blocks from the Dallas World Aquarium, where he had been asking questions about the animals and where a worker had seen him on the news.
Police have said they are still investigating the death of an endangered vulture at the zoo in January, but Irvin has not been linked to it.
Also on Tuesday, police in Louisiana said they had arrested a 61-year-old man in connection with the disappearance of 12 squirrel monkeys from their enclosure at Zoosiana in Broussard, about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge. The monkeys were found missing on January 29. The police said they hadn’t found the monkeys yet.
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