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BY Francis Akhalbey, 8:40am February 09, 2023,

Texas man arrested for stealing zoo monkeys says he’d do it again if released

Davion Irvin, 24, is accused of stealing two emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo -- Left photo credit: The Associated Press | Right photo credit: Brocken Inaglory

A Texas man, who was arrested on suspicion of stealing two emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo, is said to have expressed his love for animals and also claimed he’ll commit further thefts if he’s released, court documents stated.

According to The Associated Press, the disappearance of the monkeys at the zoo came at a time when other suspicious activities had happened at the facility. The suspect, identified as 24-year-old Davion Irvin, was arrested on Thursday following a tip from the public. 

Following his arrest, Irvin told police that he made away with the monkeys on January 29 after he cut an enclosure’s metal mesh, arrest warrant affidavits stated. He also said he entered the zoo by scaling a fence, adding that he waited until dark to commit the alleged crime. After he took possession of the monkeys, the suspect said he made his way to a vacant home that contained other animals he kept. Irvin has since been charged with six counts of animal cruelty and two counts of burglary. 

The monkeys, named Bella and Finn, were eventually found by police at a home on January 31 after they received the tip. Besides the monkeys, officers who entered the home also found several cats and pigeons as well as a dead feeder fish and fish food that was taken from a staff-only section of the zoo. Affidavits stated that the food vanished in January, but no theft report was filed.

Police also said Irvin is linked to another incident where a leopard at the zoo escaped her enclosure on January 13. The leopard was reported missing, and the zoo had to close and initiate a search after a cut in her enclosure was found, The Associated Press reported. She was later found not too far from her habitat. Irvin has since been charged with burglary for that incident.

The suspect told investigators that his intention was to take the leopard away, the affidavit stated. But he said he managed to pet her before she climbed the top of her enclosure, the affidavit added.

Police said there was another separate incident where an enclosure for langur monkeys was cut. They have also linked Irvin to that. But Irvin doesn’t face charges for that incident. The langur monkeys did not also escape. An endangered vulture at the zoo also suspiciously died in January. Irvin has, however, not been linked to its death.

The affidavit stated that a man’s activities at the zoo before the emperor tamarin monkeys went missing raised eyebrows. The man is said to have asked questions about relocating and taking care of the monkeys. He also enquired about the aforementioned leopard. The man was also spotted making his way into staff buildings not far from the monkeys’ enclosure. 

A photo of a person of interest was released by the police after the monkeys were reported missing. A tip ultimately helped police locate the suspect. The person who gave the tip told police that multiple church members recognized the suspect as an individual who usually went to an unoccupied home the church owned, The Associated Press reported. 

Irvin was arrested around The Dallas World Aquarium area after he went to the facility to ask about the animals there. He was recognized by a worker who saw him in the news. Irvin was still in custody as of Tuesday. His bond is set at $25,000. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 9, 2023


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