Police in Texas have caught a 24-year-old self-proclaimed “animal lover” responsible for stealing two monkeys from the Dallas Zoo, along with a bizarre series of other crimes.
Dallas police say Davion Irvin was arrested a week after he entered a monkey enclosure at the zoo and stole two tamarins before escaping with them on the city’s light rail system.
The monkeys were later found in the closet of an abandoned home in Lancaster after police received a tip. The home, located 15 miles south of the zoo, also contained multiple cats, pigeons and dead feeder fish stolen from the staff-only area of the zoo.
The tamarins, Bella and Finn, were returned to the zoo and evaluated by a veterinarian.
Irvin was arrested several blocks away from the Dallas World Aquarium, where he had asked staff members questions about the animals located there before being recognized by a worker from news coverage.
According to arrest warrant affidavits, Irvin told police that on the night of January 29 — a week before his arrest — he jumped the fence onto zoo grounds, cut the metal mesh cage of an enclosure and took the two emperor tamarins.
Irvin remains in custody on a $25,000 bond and has been charged with six counts of animal cruelty and two counts of burglary. One of the burglary charges was tied to a January 13 incident where Nova, a clouded leopard at the Dallas Zoo, escaped through an opening cut through her enclosure. The zoo was closed and a search was launched for the leopard, who was later found near her habitat. Irvin told police he wanted to take the cat but was only able to pet her before she jumped on top of her enclosure.
Staff at the zoo said they became suspicious of Irvin after he asked a series of questions about transporting and caring for the animals days before the crime. Police were able to track him to the abandoned home in Lancaster after they received a tip from attendees of a church who recognized Irvin in the surveillance photos and video images released by the department; apparently, the church owns the vacant home.
Police are also investigating whether Irvin could be behind the suspicious death of a vulture at the zoo in January.
Irvin said he would steal more animals if released from jail.