Police arrest suspect in Idaho zoo monkey’s death

Raquel Erhard – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Boise, ID, United States (4E) – A 22-year-old man from Weiser, Idaho was taken into custody late Monday for allegedly breaking-in and causing the death of a Patas monkey in Zoo Boise.

Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson said Michael J. Watkins is facing charges of burglary and grand theft.

A combination of a citizen tip and good police led to the arrest, added Masterson. “I speak for many of us in the police department and the community who were angered and outraged over this senseless crime.”

Police said a security guard saw two dark clothed men early Saturday morning, one was inside the zoo perimeter and another was outside the fence along the primate enclosure. They fled after seeing the guard.

Authorities who combed the 11-acre zoo did not find the suspects, however, they spotted a Patas monkey with a head injury in the primate area where the suspects were last seen.

The monkey died a short time later because of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Watkins, who has been detained in Washington County, has upper torso injuries but the cause of those injuries have yet to be determined.

The suspect’s motives have not been revealed and police said the other man the guard saw at the zoo is not expected to be charged.

Steve Burns, the zoo’s director, said members of his staff were devastated when informed about the incident, “”they kept asking why and I didn’t have an answer for them.”

Reports stated another male monkey staying in the same cage was not hurt.

Burns added they are worried about the welfare of the remaining animal because monkeys are social animals but the zoo is planning either to replace the monkey or relocate the surviving Patas monkey to another zoo.

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