By Rebecca Boone Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho — Police have arrested one person in connection with the death of a monkey at Zoo Boise.
Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said no other information was immediately available, but officers and a representative from Zoo Boise were expected to hold a press conference Monday evening.
The patas monkey was found dead of blunt force trauma to the head and neck early Saturday morning, shortly after a zoo security guard frightened away two male intruders. The death left zoo workers shocked and devastated, zoo director Steve Burns said, and prompted an organization called Crime Stoppers to offer an award of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest of the culprits.
Hightower said investigators aren’t revealing whether they think the zoo break-in was a prank that turned violent or something done with more sinister intent, because they want to protect the investigation. But she said the department has heard from plenty of area residents who are upset that someone would hurt an animal.
“This is the kind of thing that people are hearing about and they’re very angry. The detectives in the officer are very anxious and hopeful” that the crime will be solved soon, Hightower said Monday morning.
The zoo doesn’t have surveillance video. Instead, security guards patrol the grounds whenever the zoo is closed.
It was a security guard who first ran across the crime, Burns said, coming across two male intruders inside the zoo early Saturday morning. Both men fled, one running into the interior of the zoo.
Burns and police were searching the grounds when Burns heard a groan and found the injured monkey outside of its exhibit, near the fence surrounding the zoo. They were able to get the animal into a crate and to the zoo’s animal hospital, but the monkey died just a few minutes later of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.
An inventory showed none of the other animals were missing or harmed.
Crimes at the zoo are rare, said Burns, and zoo employees have been devastated by the news.
“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,” Burns said. “People in Boise are usually pretty respectful. We were just saying the other day that we can’t even remember the last time that someone was found inside the zoo after hours. The security guards do a really good job.”
Burns said it will take him a few weeks before he can decide if the remaining patas monkey will be sent to another zoo or if another patas monkey will be brought in as a companion. The animals are social, and need to be around members of their own species.
The crime may have raised interest in the patas monkeys — a donation for the remaining patas monkey under the zoo’s adopt-an-animal program came in over the weekend, Burns said.
The monkey exhibit remains open to the public, although zoo workers were keeping some of the larger garage-sized doors to the exhibit closed to keep down noise and keepers were giving the remaining patas monkey a little more attention, Burns said. The zoo kicked off a fundraiser to build a new exhibit house for the primates in September.
“That primate house was built back in the 1960s and it’s just time to update it and provide the animals with more space and things like that,” he said.
For now, he said, zoo workers are just focusing on caring for the remaining 300 animals at the zoo.
“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. Boise’s a really nice place to live and usually this kind of stuff doesn’t happen in Boise,” he said.