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Arrest made in beating death of zoo monkey, a type that avoids fights

November 20, 2012|By Amy Hubbard

A 22-year-old Idaho man has been arrested and charged with two felonies in connection with the apparent bludgeoning death of a Zoo Boise monkey -- a breed known for its tendency to be timid.

According to Boise police, suspect Michael J. Watkins had to overcome "several zoo security measures" in the early morning hours Saturday to gain entry first to the zoo and then to the enclosure that held two Patas monkeys, a creature described as the fastest of all primates but also one of the least aggressive.

"An exception to the rule of big, aggressive Old World Monkeys," says the San Francisco Zoo, the Patas will run away rather than fight.

According to the Boise zoo, a necropsy performed on the monkey found that it died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

The suspect also suffered injuries -- to his upper torso -- but according to the Associated Press the cause of those injuries has not been determined. Watkins allegedly sought hospital care for his injuries at some point after the incident Saturday. The explanation he gave hospital staff didn't "mesh up" with his injuries, said Boise police Chief Michael Masterson in a news conference Monday evening.

Watkins, who has been charged with burglary and grand theft, is one of two men police believe were involved in the incident. According to police, a security guard saw two males; one was inside the zoo's perimeter fence and the other outside. The pair ran after spotting the security guard -- one appearing to head to the interior of the zoo. A search failed to locate any suspect, but a ball cap was found near the primate exhibit, as well as blood evidence -- which, as of Monday, was being tested to see whether it was human.

Police said they didn't expect criminal charges to be filed against the second person the guard saw.

Masterson credited "a citizen tip and good police work" in the late-Monday arrest. He said that both the police department and the community were "angered and outraged" over the apparent killing of the monkey.

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