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Boise zoo break-in leaves monkey dead; officials seek 2 suspects

November 18, 2012|By Matt Pearce
  • A Patas monkey looks out of his cage at Zoo Boise after his cage mate was severely injured and died in Boise, Idaho.
A Patas monkey looks out of his cage at Zoo Boise after his cage mate was severely… (Katherine Jones )

A break-in at Zoo Boise in Idaho's biggest city has left a Patas monkey dead and police searching for suspects.

Zoo security reported spotting two men in dark clothing at the zoo before dawn Saturday morning, with one man outside the zoo near the primate exhibit and one man inside zoo grounds (map), according to the Boise Police Department.

Both men ran after seeing the security guard and eluded police.

Later, while searching for evidence, police and zoo employees found an injured Patas monkey "next to the perimeter fence near the primate exhibit where the suspects were last seen," police said in a statement. (It's not clear if that meant the monkey was outside  its regular exhibit; the zoo's offices were closed Sunday and a police spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.)

The Patas monkey died shortly after being taken to treatment. It had been hit in the head and neck.

“Everybody here at the zoo is devastated,” Zoo Director Steve Burns said in a statement. “Our staff and volunteers care deeply about the welfare of the animals they tend on a daily basis."

Police planned to test blood they discovered to determine whether it belonged to the monkey or the suspect. Police gave local media a photo of a beige hat with a skull and wing pattern they found at the zoo after the break-in.

"It's very disturbing that someone would intentionally break into the zoo and harm an animal,"  Sgt. Ted Snyder of the Boise Police Department said in a statement. "We're doing all we can to find who did this."

Patas monkeys come from central Africa and are not endangered. They're relatively large as far as monkeys go, often weighing  35 pounds and growing up to 2.5 feet tall, according to  Zoo Boise.

They're adapted for life on the ground and typically move around on all fours, capable of speeds up to 34 mph, according to the National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but often sleep in trees at night to avoid predators.

The monkey killed  in the break-in came from the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Bay, Fla., with another Patas monkey that officials are now worried about.

“Because monkeys are social animals, we are concerned about the welfare of the remaining animal,” Burns said in the statement, which raised the possibility of replacing the dead monkey or moving the survivor to another zoo.

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