A suspect found, but a case that still remains hazy.
For several weeks, exotic animals at the Dallas Zoo in the US state of Texas have been victims of theft or injury.
The authorities are convinced: behind these volatilizations hides a human intervention.
A man, suspected of having stolen two primates from the animal site, has been arrested.
But the death of another zoo animal, a vulture, remains unexplained, and other animal sites fear future thefts, due to heavy trafficking of rare animals.
After two days of turmoil following the disappearance of "Finn" and "Bella", two emperor tamarin monkeys found near Dallas, the police announced the arrest on Thursday of a suspect.
Disappeared on Monday, the little white mustache monkeys were found Tuesday, suffering from cold and starving, in an abandoned house.
One of the monkeys found by the police, in an abandoned house near Dallas.
REUTERS/Dallas Police Department
Aged 24 and suspected of having stolen the two monkeys, Davion Irvin had "been seen at the Dallas aquarium, near the animals on display", explain the police in a press release.
He was charged with six counts of "cruelty to animals".
Davion Irvin is also suspected of having cut fences sheltering leopards and langurs, a species of Asian monkeys also called langurs, specifies the New York Times.
On January 13, "Nova", a rare clouded leopard, escaped from the menagerie through an intentionally opened breach in its enclosure.
The feline had been recovered after a vast mobilization of several hours, involving in particular drones with infrared vision of the police.
In the aftermath, zoo workers discovered a similar breach in the langur cage.
A clouded leopard at the San Diego Zoo.
Despite this arrest, the investigation continues, recalled the Dallas police on Friday.
Because she cannot, at this stage, determine who is responsible for the death of “Pin”, the beloved vulture of the zoo.
At the end of January, the carcass of the animal, from an endangered species, was found marked by an “atypical injury”, suggesting that its death was not due to a natural cause.
Animals sold for thousands of dollars
After the disappearance of the vulture and the panther, the security of the Dallas Zoo was reinforced, and the police installed their own surveillance cameras on the premises.
Concern remains high for all American zoos.
"We know how difficult it is to protect national parks and animals from trafficking and persecution," said Dan Ashe, president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in the United States to NPR radio.
On Monday, a center in the state of Louisiana also announced the disappearance of twelve squirrel monkeys in its enclosure.
These multiple thefts are part of a long list of thefts of exotic animals, often resold as part of illegal trafficking estimated between 7.8 and 10 billion dollars per year by the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Texas, where the Dallas Zoo is located, is also one of the states with the most exotic animal owners, Shelby Bobosky, executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, told the New York Times. in the defense of animal rights.
“On the black market, these animals sell for thousands of dollars,” she says.
Tamarind monkeys are regularly the target of international thefts.
Several of these primates had been stolen from a conservatory in 2020 in Val-d'Oise, from a refuge in the north of France in 2016, before that in Lyon (France) in 2011, or even from a zoo in Blackpool (Kingdom United) in 2014.