Zoo too? Houston Zoo latest to deal with suspicious incident

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HOUSTON — Police are investigating possible vandalism at the Houston Zoo after workers discovered that someone had deliberately cut a four-inch gap in the mesh that covers a habitat for brown pelicans.

The damage to the habitat comes after a series of thefts and incidents of vandalism at other zoos around the country, including the theft of two monkeys from the Dallas Zoo.

After workers at the Houston Zoo discovered the cut in the mesh on Monday, they searched the area and found the animals inside were secure and safe, the zoo said in a statement Wednesday.

“The gap appears to be the result of vandalism. Out of an abundance of caution, all other animal areas were closely examined, and nothing similar was found,” the zoo said.

Houston police were called to the zoo Monday afternoon to take an initial report, said police spokesman Victor Senties.

The police department’s property and financial crimes division is handling the case but it was still “pretty early in the investigation,” Senties said.

“We will not tolerate the theft or endangerment of any of our animals, big or small,” the zoo said.

In Dallas, Davion Irvin was jailed after being charged in the theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys from the city’s zoo on Jan. 29. The monkeys were found safe two days later in an empty home in suburban Dallas.

Irvin also faces a burglary charge related to the escape of a clouded leopard named Nova, who was discovered missing Jan. 13. A cut was found in her enclosure, and the Dallas Zoo closed as a search was launched. She was found later that day near her habitat.

Police in Louisiana announced the arrest Tuesday of a 61-year-old man in the case of 12 squirrel monkeys discovered missing Jan. 29 from their enclosure at Zoosiana in Broussard, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of Baton Rouge. Police said the monkeys remain missing.

In New York, officials were still trying to recapture Flaco, a Eurasian eagle-owl, which escaped from the Central Park Zoo on Feb. 2 after someone had vandalized its exhibit.

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