Police arrested an injured man and are searching for his accomplice following a break-in at an Idaho zoo which left a patas monkey dead with blunt force trauma to its head and neck.
Michael J. Watkins, 22, was arrested Monday in Washington County, Idaho, after showing up at a local hospital with chest injuries that “did not seem to mesh up” with the story he told hospital staff, according to Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson.
Zoo Boise officials said the slain patas monkey was found outside its cage which was shared with another patas monkey, leading to speculation that one or both of the animals may have injured Watkins. Police have yet to determine the cause of his injuries.
The Saturday break-in was stopped in progress by zoo security who witnessed a man, believed to be Watkins, breaching the zoo’s wall while another man other ran off, according to police.
Watkins has been charged with felony counts of burglary and grand theft. Police have refused to speculate on his motives. The other man is wanted for questioning, but is not expected to be charged, said Masterson.
“I speak for many of us in the police department and the community who were angered and outraged over this senseless crime,” said Masterson.
Similar sentiments were shared by Zoo Boise’s Director Steve Burns. “I've been here for 15 years, and I don't remember any cases where we've had a visitor intentionally or even accidentally injure an animal . . . We're going to grieve for the animal and make sure the community's OK. But we're going to move on with the plans that we have and continue to take care of the animals,” said Burns.
Zoo Boise, which houses over 300 animals, hasn’t said what the plans are for the surviving patas monkey. Patas monkeys, which are found in West and East Africa, require companionship, living in groups of up to 60 primates. If another patas monkey cannot be transferred to Zoo Boise, officials will consider relocating the surviving patas to another facility where it can join an existing patas monkey community.
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