Dallas Zoo

Dallas Zoo Suspect Arrested After Being Seen Visiting Dallas World Aquarium

The man was arrested after being spotted near animal exhibits at an aquarium in Dallas

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The man charged in the taking of two emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo has also been linked to two other recent incidents there, authorities said Friday.

Davion Irvin, 24, has been charged with two counts of burglary to a building in connection with the cutting of the enclosure fences for the clouded leopard and emperor tamarin monkeys, Dallas Police said Friday. He was also linked to the cutting of the habitat of the zoo's langur monkeys, police said. The langur monkeys didn't escape and weren't harmed; the leopard did but was later found safe near its pen.

Lowman said police were still investigating whether there's any connection to the suspicious death of an endangered vulture at the zoo.

Irvin was arrested Thursday on six counts of animal cruelty — three each for the two emperor tamarin monkeys that were taken, police said. His bail was set at $25,000 and jail records didn’t list an attorney for him.

Police said additional charges are possible as the investigation is ongoing.

Dallas Zoo officials and Dallas Police gave an update Friday afternoon detailing the new arrest and investigation into a string of unusual events that involved enclosure fences that were cut and the escape or disappearance of three animals.

“The last month has been an emotional rollercoaster for the team here at Dallas Zoo,” Harrison Edell, the zoo’s executive vice president for animal care and conservation, said at the news conference.

Earlier this week Dallas Police released a photo of an unidentified man they said they wanted to speak with about the case, though they stopped short of calling the man a suspect or person of interest in the case at that time. The photo, police said, was taken from a video recorded at the Dallas Zoo.

Dallas Police
Dallas Police said they would like to speak with this man regarding animals missing from the Dallas Zoo, on Jan. 31, 2023.

A tip received from someone who saw the photo led to the safe recovery of the missing monkeys, police said, but investigators still hadn't spoken with the man in the picture.

On Thursday, Dallas Police received a tip that the man, now identified as Davion Irvin, was at the Dallas World Aquarium and was seen near animal exhibits.

Dallas Police said that when officers arrived Irvin was seen getting on a DART train. Officers picked him up in the 1400 block of Pacific Avenue and took him to Jack Evans Police Headquarters for questioning.

Waylon Tate, an aquarium spokesperson, said Irvin had stopped an employee to ask questions about one of the aquarium's animals, and the employee recognized him from the coverage of the missing monkeys.

“We do believe that (Irvin) was looking to commit another crime,” police spokeswoman Kristin Lowman said at a news conference Friday.

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Davion Irvin, booking photo.


The Dallas Zoo said Monday two emperor tamarin monkeys, Bella and Finn, were missing from the zoo and that there was clear evidence the animals' habitats had been tampered with and that they had been taken.

The Dallas Zoo said they notified the Dallas Police who were already investigating a recent string of incidents at the zoo involving damaged habitats and animal escapes.

The tamarin monkeys were found safe Tuesday in the closet of an empty home in Lancaster after a tip from a citizen who saw a photo released by the Dallas Police of a person they wanted to talk to about the case.

"We are pleased that video from our surveillance cameras – which we shared with Dallas PD – seems to have been critical in generating a tip that led to the recovery of the tamarins," the zoo said.

Zoo officials said Bella and Finn showed no sign of injury and had only lost a little weight. The pair will return to their habitat for the public to see them after a mandatory quarantine period.


The theft of the tamarin monkeys was the fourth suspicious incident at the zoo since the start of the new year. 

The first incident involved a clouded leopard, Nova, who escaped her enclosure after police discovered it had been intentionally cut.

As Dallas Police opened a criminal investigation, zoo staff members the next day found a similar intentional cut on the enclosure that houses langur monkeys, all of whom were accounted for.

Most recently, the death of an endangered vulture has been labeled suspicious due to an "unusual wound" zoo officials found on the bird. Dallas Police said Irvin has not been linked to the vulture's death, but added that the investigation is ongoing.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a clarification from Dallas Police, who earlier said Irvin was charged with burglary in connection with the cutting of the langur monkey enclosure. Police later said the burglary charge was for the disappearance of two emperor tamarin monkeys, and Irvin was linked to the cutting of the langur monkey habitat.

Copyright NBC 5 News and The Associated Press
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