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What Is Going on With All the Missing and Dead Animals at the Dallas Zoo?

An Emperor Tamarin monkey is seen inside the new area dedicated to the world's smallest monkeys at the Bioparco  on November 3, 2011 in Rome, Italy.

The Dallas Zoo has been having some issues lately—like, a lot of issues. This is going to sound like some weird Scooby Doo mystery, but I assure you it’s real. ABC News has a thorough timeline of the shenanigans afoot:

First, on Jan 13, a clouded leopard named Nova escaped its enclosure after someone intentionally cut it. Luckily, she was found quickly, on the zoo grounds, and she’s back safe and sound. Per the same article:

That same day, investigators discovered a second fence had been similarly cut at a habitat for langur monkeys, police said. No langurs escaped or appeared to be harmed, police said.

That’s weird enough; who goes around wanting to cut animals out of their enclosures? I grew up in Anchorage Alaska, and in the mid-’90s, we had multiple tourists wanting to climb into our polar bear enclosure. Let me tell you, it did not end well for them. Leave wild animals alone, people!

On January 21, a vulture named Pin was discovered dead in his habitat. A necropsy was done on the bird, and it was determined that he had died from a wound. Who kills a giant bird? They’re essentially just chill dinosaurs who hang out all day waiting to be fed. We have a few like Pin at my local zoo. They are cool and don’t bother anyone. What the hell?!

Then, on Jan 23, the president of the zoo, Gregg Hudson, offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who can offer up information leading to an arrest and indictment in connection “with these issues.” Well, that is a huge understatement, sir. If someone cut an enclosure with a massive predator cat and then killed a buzzard, I would be out there calling for mob justice. This is probably why I haven’t risen very far in life.

If you think this story is about to get weirder, you are absolutely right.

On January 30, someone once again cut into an animal’s enclosure. This time, it was the zoo’s emperor tamarin monkeys. Two of them were taken. OK, at this point, why is there not a camera on every single damn enclosure in this zoo? What is going on in Dallas!?

This story is about to get even weirder, because the monkeys were found the following day, in the closet of an abandoned house, due to a tip, as was announced on Twitter by the Dallas PD. Surely there is more to the story than we realize, and they’re just withholding from the public, but damn. This story is just weird.

The good news is that the monkeys are totally fine. They’ve been checked out by the zoo’s vets and have a clean bill of health.

Now that the monkeys are back safe and sound, the reward has been increased to $25,000.

This whole situation is sad and ridiculous. One incident, I get (sort of) because it can show where you policies are lax. This many, in this short amount of time? Come on now. It shouldn’t be this easy to steal monkeys! What in the world is going on here?

It is my sincere hope that whoever is doing this gets caught soon because animals who are just trying to live their lives are getting hurt, and that seems unfair. It’s not their fault the Dallas Zoo is so utterly incompetent it can’t keep its animals safe after repeated security incidents spread out over multiple days. As I said, once is an anomaly, but three times is just complete ineptitude of leadership.

(featured image: Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images)

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