Two exotic monkeys are missing from the Dallas Zoo in what officials say is the latest in a string of suspicious incidents that have occurred there this month.
The zoo said it alerted the Dallas Police Department on Monday morning after employees discovered two emperor tamarins were missing.
“It was clear the habitat had been intentionally compromised,” the zoo said in a statement posted to its Twitter feed.
Escaped emperor tamarins, small monkeys known for their long, white, mustache-like whiskers, “would likely stay close to home,” zoo officials explained, but employees searching near their habitat and across the 100-acre grounds could not locate them.
“Based on the Dallas Police Department’s initial assessment, they have reason to believe the tamarins were taken,” the zoo said, adding that it was “an active” police investigation.
On Tuesday, Dallas police released a photo and surveillance video asking for the public’s help in identifying a person wanted for questioning in connection with the missing monkeys.
The case of the missing monkeys is just one of several unusual events that have taken place at the zoo in recent weeks.
On Jan. 13, the zoo was shut down for several hours after a 4-year-old clouded leopard named Nova went missing. According to the Associated Press, Dallas police used drones and initially “dispatched SWAT officers to the zoo, not understanding the size of a clouded leopard” before the 25-pound animal was found safe on zoo grounds.
Harrison Edell, executive vice president of animal care and conservation at the Dallas Zoo, said there was a tear in the mesh of Nova's enclosure, and that authorities had opened a criminal investigation.
“It is our belief that this was an intentional act,” Dallas Police Sgt. Warren Mitchell said at the time.
Dallas police were back at the zoo the next day after “an intentional cut was made on the enclosures that house langur monkeys,” USA Today reported. None of the monkeys were missing or harmed. Police said they did not know if the two incidents were related.
On Jan. 21, an endangered vulture named Pin was found dead in its habitat.
Zoo officials said the death of the 35-year-old adult lappet-faced vulture was “unusual” and not "from natural causes."
Dallas Zoo President and CEO Gregg Hudson revealed at a news conference that the vulture appeared to have suffered an intentional wound that was ultimately fatal.
"This goes from being about malicious and gets into really criminal intent that's dangerous," Hudson told reporters. "I've been in the zoo profession over 30-plus years, and never had a situation like [this]. It's unprecedented and very disturbing."
The Dallas Police Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a multi-agency probe into the incident, CBS News reported, adding that the zoo is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can provide information that leads to an arrest or indictment.
While relatively rare, animals have escaped enclosures from the Dallas Zoo before.
In 2004, the AP reported that a “340-pound (154-kilogram) gorilla named Jabari jumped over a wall and went on a 40-minute rampage that injured three people before police shot and killed the animal.”