Where Have All the Monkeys Gone?

Primate-stealing crime wave sweeps zoos nationwide

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 03: A zookeeper gives treats to a squirrel monkey during the annual...
Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
furious george

As if there isn’t enough to worry about, monkeys are disappearing. On Monday, a Broussard, Louisiana-based zoo called Zoosiana announced on Facebook that, over the weekend, an individual had broken into the wildlife enclosure and pulled off a primate-related heist.

The perp breached the perimeter around midnight on Saturday, the post alleged, targeting the “facilities of smaller primates and specifically compromised the Squirrel Monkey exhibit,” absconding with some dozen members of the Saimiri genus. “The individual was unfortunately successful in stealing 12 squirrel monkeys,” Zoosiana wrote.

It’s unclear what the chimp burglar has in store for the pilfered monkeys, but they sell for somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000, according to A-Z-Animals.com. Notably, that number comes from a post called “The 5 Cheapest Monkeys to Keep As Pets,” so it’s possible our man or damsel made a financial miscalculation here. Either way, cops are on the case. “In the 13 years of law enforcement, we haven’t really investigated a theft of squirrel monkeys,” an officer told The Hill. “We’re going to continue investigating it as any other crime that has taken place.”

The same day, another monkey operation unfolded some 400 miles northwest. The Dallas Zoo announced Monday that its animal care team had discovered two of the zoo’s emperor tamarin monkeys, crazy little freaks who bear a strong resemblance to Father Time, had also been disappeared. The Zoo tweeted: “It was clear the habitat had been intentionally compromised.”

The Dallas Zoo operation came after a series of strange, seemingly intentional animal escapes over the past month. Two weeks ago, the zoo declared a “Code Blue” — meaning a non-life threatening escape — over the disappearance of a clouded leopard named Nova, who was later found on site. Upon further review, officials uncovered a “suspicious” tear in the enclosure she shared with her sister. Law enforcement opened a criminal investigation and, the next day, found similar tears in the zoo’s langur monkey habitat, though none appeared to have escaped. Then, last week officials announced that a rare vulture had died on the premises under “unusual” circumstances. In a statement, the zoo wrote: “The death does not appear to be from natural causes.”

This sounds bad for our enclosed animal brothers and sisters, and hopefully they will not wind up like Pepe the Macaw, who disappeared from the Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in July, only to turn up dead in a dumpster miles from the zoo. But the missing monkeys admittedly stand a better chance: They can call 9-1-1.