Suspect in Dallas Zoo's missing animal mysteries arrested, facing animal cruelty charges

Police on Friday announced they arrested a suspect in connection with a string of bizarre incidents at the Dallas Zoo that left cages cut, animals missing and zoo officials scrambling for answers.

Davion Irvin, 24, was booked into the Dallas County jail Thursday night, jail records show.

Irvin faces six charges of animal cruelty in connection with two emperor tamarin monkeys that were stolen from the zoo earlier this week. Irvin was also facing burglary charges in relation to the tamarin monkey case and the disappearance of Nova, a 4-year-old clouded leopard.

On Friday, jail records show Irvin's bail was set at $25,000. It was not immediately known if Irvin has an attorney.

According to police, the preliminary investigation and help from the public identified Irvin as the man police were looking to speak with in the missing-monkey case.

Earlier this week, police released a photo of a man with whom detectives wanted to speak and had asked the public to help identify them.

A Dallas police vehicle sit at an entrance at the Dallas Zoo, Friday morning, Jan. 13, 2023.
A Dallas police vehicle sit at an entrance at the Dallas Zoo, Friday morning, Jan. 13, 2023.

A tip from the public

On Thursday, police said they received a tip Irvin was seen at the Dallas World Aquarium near animal exhibits.

When officers responded they saw Irvin get onto a DART rail, a train system serving the Dallas area. Officers later spotted Irvin nearby and took him to police headquarters for questioning.

The two emperor tamarin monkeys, Bella and Finn, were unaccounted for in their habitat Monday morning, according to zoo officials, who said it was immediately clear the habitat had been "intentionally compromised.” Police said the habitat was cut.

Police found the monkeys unharmed in an empty home outside city limits on Tuesday.

A series of bizarre events

The series of strange events at the zoo began on Jan. 13, when the zoo was shut down after Nova vanished. She was found on zoo grounds and safely secured. Harrison Edell, executive vice president of animal care and conservation at the Dallas Zoo, noted there was a tear in the mesh of Nova's enclosure that morning.

The next day, on Jan. 14, Dallas police opened a criminal investigation and found that an intentional cut was made in the enclosures that house langur monkeys. No monkeys were missing or harmed. Detectives also determined the mesh in the leopard's enclosure had been purposely cut.

And on Jan. 21, Pin, a 35-year-old endangered adult lappet-faced vulture, was found dead in its habitat. The zoo said a veterinary team found "an unusual wound and injuries, which pointed to this not being a natural death."

Contributing: Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY 

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dallas Zoo: Suspect Davion Irvin arrested in stolen monkeys, animals