Dallas Zoo

Missing Dallas Zoo Monkeys Found in Nearby Home

Dallas Zoo says monkeys that were taken from their habitat had lost a little weight but were otherwise unharmed

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The Dallas Zoo says the two monkeys that were taken from their habitats Monday and found in Lancaster Tuesday are back home and are doing well.

Dallas Police said that they found the two emperor tamarin monkeys, named Bella and Finn, after getting a tip. Police said they then went to an empty home in Lancaster, located just south of Dallas, and found the monkeys safe in a closet.

"We are thrilled beyond belief to share that our two emperor tamarin monkeys have been found," zoo officials said in a statement. "DPD located the animals early this evening and called our team to come secure and transport the tamarins back to the zoo. They will be evaluated by our veterinarians this evening."

Zoo officials shared a post on Facebook on Wednesday saying Bella and Finn "were so happy to snuggle into their nest sack here at the zoo last night." The zoo added that veterinarians and the animal's care teams said they showed no sign of injury and had only lost a little weight.

Dallas Zoo
The Dallas Zoo says two tamarin monkeys are home and happy after being taken from the zoo in January 2023.

Both Bella and Finn started eating and drinking almost immediately after their exams.

"We will continue to monitor them closely, but for now, we're so glad they are safe and back with us," the zoo said on Facebook. "They will not return to the habitat in the Lacerte Family Children's Zoo for a little while still - because they were taken off-grounds, they will need to clear a quarantine period before they are reintroduced to their Zoo habitat."

The empty building in Lancaster where the monkeys were found was recently broken into and was filled with wild animals, according to a nearby church that owned the property and planned to use it as a youth center.

The zoo thanked the Dallas Police for their quick work in locating the monkeys and for the public's help in providing the tip.

"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.

The zoo did not release any additional details about the theft and said case details, including those regarding the animals' recovery, will come from the police. The zoo did say, however, that they were increasing the reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the case from $10,000 to $25,000.

No arrests have been made and no suspects have been identified by police.


Dallas Police on Tuesday asked for the public's help identifying a man they say they want to speak with about the case of the missing monkeys and released a photo taken from surveillance video recorded at the zoo. The police said only that they wanted to talk with the man and offered no other details.

A woman who saw the photo told NBC 5 she thought she recognized the man and called the police.

"We reached out to authorities saying that we thought we knew who the person was and how we have had recent break-ins at our youth center that we've been trying to get going for the community," said Tanya, the daughter of the church's pastor who wished to be identified by only her first name.

"Someone has gotten back in there and destroyed it even further," she said. "So that's setting us back even further as far as getting the facility up and going. But it was really a shock to see that those precious, you know, animals were in there."

A spokesman for the Family Center church said the organization is working with police to identify the person who was responsible.

"The intruder not only caused significant damage to the youth center's facilities but also put the safety of both the animals and the community at risk. Despite the setback, the church remains committed to its mission of providing support and resources to those in need and is working closely with local authorities to ensure that the culprit is brought to justice," the spokesman said.

So far, the man's identity has not been shared publicly and police have not announced any arrests.

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, an endangered vulture was found dead with an "unusual wound," zoo officials said. Dallas Police later said they were investigating the death as being suspicious.

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