The man accused of stealing two emperor tamarins from the Dallas Zoo is also connected to tampering with the zoo’s clouded leopard and langur monkey exhibits, and had plans to steal more animals, authorities said Friday.
Davion Irvin, 24, was arrested Thursday and is charged with theft and animal cruelty crimes.
Images of a man had circulated throughout North Texas, and a Dallas World Aquarium employee recognized him at the facility on Thursday, aquarium spokesman Waylon Tate said in a statement.
The suspect detained an employee «to ask questions about one of our animals» and that worker «immediately recognized Mr. Irvin for previously reporting the incident involving the alleged theft of two emperor tamarins,» Tate said.
Those questions included «means and manners of entrapment of animals,» according to a police affidavit supporting Irvin’s arrest warrant.
After authorities were called, approaching officers saw Irvin boarding a Dallas-area rapid transit train before being pulled over, Dallas police spokeswoman Kristin Lowman said in a statement. Authorities had also used facial recognition programs to identify him, according to the affidavit.
Authorities said a motive is still being investigated, but the suspect was never a zoo employee.
«Investigation of all cases at the zoo is ongoing and further charges may be filed,» Lowman said.
Emperor tamarins were reported stolen from their habitats in the dallas zoo on Monday.
Police credited clues from the public that led them to the monkeys, Bella and Finn, who were found contained in a bathroom inside a vacant house in nearby Lancaster on Tuesday. The animals were not harmed, authorities said.
The animals were found on church property on Gerry Way Street in Lancaster, across the street from «suspect Irvin’s family home,» according to the police affidavit.
Inside, there were various cats and pigeons, animal feces and «dead animals,» the affidavit said.
Authorities also found items on the scene that had been stolen from the facility last month, including flake food for otters and feeder fish.
Police said they interviewed Irvin’s relatives and showed them photos of the man believed to have robbed Bella and Finn.
The family «stated that the image resembled suspect Irvin, but declined to positively identify him,» the affidavit read.
The disappearance of the monkeys was the latest in a series of suspicious incidents at the zoo. Researchers found an intentional cut in their habitat and previously said they believed they had been taken.
Irvin is charged with one count of burglary, five counts of cruelty to non-livestock animals and one count of cruelty to livestock animals, jail records show.
Those charges are related to emperor tamarin monkeys, but the suspect may also be charged in connection with langur monkeys and the clouded leopard exhibit, authorities said.
The suspect was taken into custody Thursday night in lieu of $25,000 bail, jail records showed.
It was not immediately clear Friday morning whether Irvin had retained or been assigned an attorney.
The police announcement on Friday did not link this arrest to other suspicious incidents at the zoo.
In recent days, Irvin had been at the zoo «asking animal questions» that included inquiries about «the status and location of the recently escaped and relocated/captured clouded leopard,» according to the police affidavit.
Police feared that if he was not caught, there would have been «more robbery crimes,» the affidavit says.
On January 21, Pin, a 35-year-old endangered vulture, was found dead with what authorities described as an «unusual wound.» The cause of the animal’s death has not been determined.
On January 13, Nova, a 3-year-old clouded leopard, escaped from her wire-mesh enclosure after being cut, authorities said. The cat, which the zoo said posed no danger to the public, was found later that day.
A similar cut was found in the zoo’s langur monkey habitat, police said. No animal escaped or was taken or harmed.
The zoo has beefed up security measures, adding more night guards and cameras, and offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the incidents, the spokeswoman said.
This is a developing story. Please check for updates.