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Arrest made in Dallas Zoo monkey theft, police say 'further charges possible'

Dallas Zoo officials and police provide update on arrest in stolen monkey case
Dallas Zoo officials and police provide update on arrest in stolen monkey case 06:15

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — An arrest has been made in the Jan. 30 theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo.

On Thursday, Feb. 2, Dallas police arrested 24-year-old Davion Irvin in connection with the case.

Law enforcement's preliminary investigation and help from the public led to Irvin's identification as the man police were looking to speak with earlier this week. 

Police said they received a tip Thursday that Irvin was seen at the Dallas World Aquarium near animal exhibits. 

The aquarium released the following statement Friday:

On February 2, 2023, a gentleman who would later be identified as Davion Dwight Irvin, stopped an employee of The Dallas World Aquarium to ask questions regarding one of our animals. The employee immediately recognized Mr. Irvin from prior reporting on the incident involving the suspected theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo. The employee swiftly notified local authorities, and Mr. Irvin was later apprehended outside of and away from our facility.

There were no disruptions to our operations or guests' experiences during or after the interaction at The Dallas World Aquarium, and our staff will continue to cooperate with authorities regarding this matter.

When officers responded, they reportedly saw Irvin get "onto a DART rail." He was later spotted in the 1400 block of Pacific Avenue and was subsequently taken to Jack Evans Headquarters for questioning.

The 24-year-old has since been charged with six counts of animal cruelty, of which police say are in connection to the tamarin case.

The monkeys, named Bella and Finn, were found one day after they were reported missing at a community house owned by the Family Center Church of God in Christ in Lancaster. 

Emperor tamarin monkeys Bella and Finn
Bella and Finn Dallas Zoo

The monkeys were found inside a closet inside what police originally called an abandoned house.

Tonya Thomas, whose father is the church's pastor, said some windows were boarded up because of another break-in just before the holidays, where animals were also found.

"Now nothing like the zoo or anything like that but there were a few animals in there," she said. "Cats, birds, chickens, pigeons, stuff like that." 

Police said the investigations into all recent cases at the nationally acclaimed zoo, including the sabotage of a clouded leopard's habitat and the killing of an endangered vulture, are ongoing and further charges are possible.

Irvin is currently in the Dallas County Jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

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