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Texas Man Arrested In Monkey-Napping Of Emperor Tamarins From Dallas Zoo

Davion Irvin has been arrested and charged with six counts of cruelty to nonlivestock animals in the disappearance of emperor tamarin monkeys Bella and Finn from the Dallas Zoo on Monday.

By Megan Carpentier
The Tamarin Monkeys at the Dallas Zoo

Dallas Police announced an arrest in the case of two missing monkeys.

Davion Irvin, 24, was arrested on Thursday and charged with one county of cruelty to a livestock animal and five counts of cruelty to nonlivestock animals for failure to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter; abandonment; transporting or confining an animal in a cruel manner; causing bodily injury; and serious overwork of an animal, according to jail records reviewed by Oxygen.com. He is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

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The Dallas Zoo previously announced that, on Monday morning, two emperor tamarin monkeys named Bella and Finn were reported missing from their enclosure and were not located on the grounds, prompting them to alert police. A police spokeswoman told NBC News that they found a deliberate cut to the enclosure around the animals' habitat and determined that the monkeys had been deliberately taken.

Emperor tamarins are small monkeys native to the southwest Amazon, and their conservation status is classified as "of least concern," according to the Smithsonian.

Dallas Zoo's Emperor Tamarin Monkey

On Tuesday morning, police asked for the public's help in identifying a person of interest in the case, issuing a still from surveillance footage showing a man in a dark hooded coat and knit beanie with his hand in an individual serving size bag of Doritos.

That evening, they announced that Bella and Finn had been located in an abandoned home in Lancaster, Texas — a southern Dallas suburb about 10 miles away. At least one of two was found in a closet with a section of chain link fencing. Animal experts from the zoo helped transport them back to their home.

On Wednesday morning, zoo officials announced that the two animals had lost weight in the two days they were missing, but seemed otherwise unharmed and were eating and drinking normally. The two are being quarantined until they can be safely re-introduced to their habitat.

The officials also said that the photo taken from their surveillance cameras generated the tip that led to Bella and Finn, and increased the reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect to $25,000.

Irvin was arrested on Thursday.

A police handout of Davion Irvin

Dallas police spokesperson Kristin Lowman said in a statement that tips from the public allowed them to locate Irvin near some animal exhibits at the Dallas Aquarium, which is only three miles north of the Dallas Zoo, according to NBC News. He got on the train at a nearby light rail station as officers moved to apprehend him, and was taken into custody near the Akard station.

Police have not publicly linked him to several other high-profile recent incidents at the zoo, one of which cause the death of an endangered animal.

On Jan. 13, a 3-year-old clouded leopard named Nova escaped from a habitat she shared with her sister, Luna — the zoo said the two were a bonded pair — after someone deliberately cut an opening in the fence surrounding her enclosure, NBC News reported. The zoo was shut down shortly after 8:00 a.m. and Nova was found later that day and returned to Luna and their habitat on Friday afternoon.

Clouded leopards are a vulnerable species native to Southeast Asia, according to the Smithsonian.

While investigating the damage to Nova's enclosure, police found a similar, deliberately-made opening at an enclosure for the zoo's dusty leaf langur monkeys, an endangered species from Southeast Asia. None of the langurs escaped.

The zoo reportedly stepped up its security by adding more overnight guards and surveillance cameras, and offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the perpetrator.

Then, on Jan. 23, zookeepers found a 35-year-old lappet-faced vulture named Pin dead in its enclosure, NBC News reported. One of only 6,500 left in the world, veterinary staff determined that it had "an unusual wound and injuries, which pointed to this not being a natural death."

With the exception of Pin, whose enclosure was in the "Wilds of Africa" habitat on the zoo's northwest side, the langurs, cloud leopards and emperor tamarins are all located in adjacent enclosures on the the zoo's northeast side.

Dallas Police were still investigating the earlier incidents when Bell and Finn went missing. They still have not said whether all four incidents are connected.

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