Several squirrel monkeys stolen from Louisiana zoo: police

BROUSSARD, La. (KLFY) – Police in Louisiana are investigating after 12 squirrel monkeys were stolen from their habitat over the weekend.

Zoosiana, a 45-acre zoological park located roughly 10 miles outside Lafayette, was broken into shortly before midnight Saturday, officials said in a social media post. The suspect allegedly targeted facilities for Zoosiana’s smaller primates and was able to steal 12 squirrel monkeys.

“The remaining squirrel monkeys have been carefully assessed by both the Zoosiana veterinarian and animal care team, and there are no other apparent issues affecting their health or well being,” officials said Monday. “All other animals are accounted for and appear to have been undisturbed.”

Broussard Police Chief Vance Olivier told Nexstar’s KLFY that investigators are reviewing video footage to help capture the suspect or suspects.

It’s a unique investigation but that doesn’t change the protocol. 

“In the 13 years of law enforcement, we haven’t really investigated a theft of squirrel monkeys.  We’re going to continue investigating it as any other crime that has taken place,” Chief Olivier said.

Zoosiana Director Matt Oldenburg said the focus is to stay on track.

“We checked the remaining squirrel monkeys to make sure there was nothing apparently wrong outside of the situation that occurred. We’re working hard to rebuild their comfort,” Oldenburg told KLFY.

Squirrel monkeys require special care that the suspect or suspects who stole them may not be able to provide that care. Oldenburg added that when one squirrel monkey is missing, those who remain are aware something is out of place. 

“If you hear something, we really want to get these animals back to their natural habitat where they’ve been for a while,” Chief Oliver said, encouraging the community to report anything suspicious to authorities.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Broussard Police Crime Stoppers at 337-232-TIPS or Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.

This theft comes as authorities in Dallas, Texas continue to investigate a string of odd incidents at the city’s zoo. On Monday, police said they believe someone cut an opening in an enclosure and took two emperor tamarin monkeys, small primates with long whiskers that look like a mustache.

The incident follows the Jan. 13 closure of the zoo and a daylong search when a clouded leopard named Nova went missing. On Jan. 21, an endangered vulture named Pin was found dead, and the zoo said the death did not appear to be natural. Zoo President and CEO Gregg Hudson said the vulture had “a wound.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.