What the heck happened at the Dallas Zoo?
A suspect was arrested Thursday and charged with stealing tamarins from the Dallas Zoo.
Police said the suspect was also connected to incidents involving a clouded leopard and langurs.
The arrest appears to provide some answers about the mysteries that have rattled the zoo since last month.
After an unprecedented month at the Dallas Zoo in which animals went missing and habitats were cut open, police have arrested a suspect they say is responsible for several of the incidents.
The mysterious incidents all started on January 13, when a clouded leopard named Nova was discovered missing from her habitat and was gone for several hours before being found nearby on zoo grounds and unharmed. An initial police investigation determined a "suspicious" tear had been made in her enclosure. A similar "intentional" cut was also discovered in a habitat for langur monkeys, but the langurs were all accounted for.
About a week later, an endangered vulture named Pin was found dead under what the zoo described as "unusual" circumstances.
And on Monday, two emperor tamarin monkeys were discovered missing. Police said the tamarin enclosure also had an "intentional cut" and that the monkeys were believed to have been "intentionally taken." A day later, a tip from the public led police to an empty home in Lancaster, just south of Dallas, where the tamarins were found inside a closet and then returned to the zoo.
Police on Friday identified a suspect who they connected to three of the four incidents: the tamarins, the clouded leopard, and the langur enclosure.
Davion Irvin was arrested on Thursday after he was spotted near the animal exhibits at The Dallas World Aquarium, the Dallas Police Department said during a press conference on Friday.
"We do believe he was looking to commit another crime," DPD spokesperson Kristin Lowman said. "That's why it was very important that we took him into custody and he is in custody at this time."
The 24-year-old had stopped an employee at the aquarium to ask a question about one of the animals, Waylon Tate, a spokesperson for The Dallas World Aquarium, said in a statement to Insider.
Tate said the employee recognized Irvin from a photograph police had released on Monday that they said was of a person they wanted to speak to in connection with the missing monkeys. They did not identify the person as a suspect at the time. Officials said Friday the photo helped lead to the tip received from the aquarium.
Irvin has been charged with six counts of animal cruelty related to two missing tamarin monkeys, police said Friday. He has also been charged with two counts of burglary to a building in connection with the incidents involving the clouded leopard and the langur monkey enclosure.
Police are still investigating if the incident with the vulture is connected.
They have not yet identified a potential motive.
Gregg Hudson, the president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo, said during the press conference the series of incidents at the zoo was "unprecedented," adding that the zoo was thankful for the work of DPD and assistance from the public who sent in tips. He also said the security, including cameras and patrols, that the zoo added after the incident with the leopard contributed to identifying the suspect.
"It feels like an understatement but the last month has been an emotional roller coaster for the team here at Dallas Zoo," Harrison Edell, the zoo's executive vice president for animal care and conservation, said.
"Our zoologists spend day in and day out with these animals," he said, adding: "The relationships that our team builds with those animals are profound."
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