The two monkeys reportedly stolen from the Dallas Zoo were found alive inside an abandoned home Tuesday — shortly after police released an image of a person of interest in the bizarre case.
The emperor tamarin monkeys were recovered from a house in Lancaster, Texas — just outside of downtown Dallas, a day after the theft, Dallas police and the zoo announced.
“We are thrilled beyond belief to share that our two emperor tamarin monkeys have been found,” the Dallas Zoo said in a statement.
The small, white-bearded monkeys were brought back to their habitat and will be evaluated by veterinarians, the zoo added.
Earlier Tuesday, the department released a photo of a man who investigators are looking to speak to about the animals.
Staffers at the zoo had discovered the two monkeys were gone Monday morning and noted that their enclosure “had been intentionally compromised.”
Investigators had believed the primates were taken because they wouldn’t have gone far from their home. Employees searched across the zoo grounds and didn’t find the animals.
The formerly missing monkeys were just the latest odd and unsettling occurrence at the Dallas Zoo this month that have led staffers to believe someone has been tampering with the animals.
First, a 4-year-old clouded leopard named Nova disappeared from her enclosure on Jan. 13, causing the zoo to shut down for a day as staffers searched for the feline.
The leopard was eventually found near her habitat hours after she was reported missing. Police said someone had used a tool to cut an opening in the fencing of her habitat.
Investigators discovered a similar opening in an enclosure of langur monkeys, but none of the monkeys escaped.
About a week later, on Jan. 21, zoo staffers found an endangered vulture named Pin dead. The zoo said the vulture had suffered “a wound” and that his death was not believed to be natural.
“This goes from being about malicious and gets into really criminal intent that’s dangerous,” Dallas Zoo President and CEO Gregg Hudson told reporters during press conference two days later, according to the local CBS News station. “I’ve been in the zoo profession over 30-plus years, and never had a situation like what happened Saturday. It’s unprecedented and very disturbing.”
Pin was one of just 27 lappet-faced vultures in captivity in the US. He had lived at the Dallas Zoo for the past 33 years and fathered 11 offspring, the outlet reported.
Following the vulture’s death, the zoo installed additional security cameras with night vision to the grounds and increased onsite security during overnight hours.
Dallas police said the pictured person of interest is wanted for questioning regarding the emperor tamarin monkeys. It’s unknown if the same man is believed to be connected to the prior acts of vandalism at the zoo.
It’s unclear if there were any arrests after the monkeys were recovered.