Idaho Man Arrested In Connection With Death Of Patas Monkey In Boise Zoo

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By Sreeja V N | November 20, 2012 7:53 PM EST

The police Monday arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with a burglary attempt and death of a Patas monkey at Zoo Boise over the weekend.

Michael J. Watkins of Weiser, Idaho, is believed to be one of the two intruders who the zoo security guards saw near the monkey’s enclosure Saturday morning.

"I speak for many of us in the police department and the community who were angered and outraged over this senseless crime," said Boise police chief Michael Masterson. "As usual, it was a combination of a citizen tip and good police work that led us to the arrest in this case," CNN reported.

Watkins was arrested following a tip off from a citizen who identified the cap found in the monkey’s enclosure as similar to the one worn by Watkins during his intrusion into the zoo.

According to the media reports, the zoo security guards had called in the police after they found two intruders in the zoo -- one near the fence and another near the exhibit -- after the zoo visiting hour. The intruders escaped seeing the guards approaching them.  

On further search, the guards found a Patas monkey with injuries outside its enclosure. The guards immediately took the animal to the zoo hospital but it died within a few minutes. The monkey died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

The death of the Patas monkey had shocked and angered the zoo workers, investigators and general public.

"The loss of this Patas monkey has touched many lives, including our officers and investigators," Masterson said.

Watkins was reported visiting Boise with his friends and is from Weiser town near Oregon–Idaho border.

Police were yet to interrogate the accused who reportedly had sustained some kind of wounds on his upper torso after the incident and had availed treatment in a hospital.

According to a USAToday report, it is not for the first time that Watkins had a brush with law. He was reportedly arrested for drug-related crimes earlier.

Zoo authorities were yet to decide about the retaining the remaining Patas monkey at the Boise zoo.

 “Because monkeys are social animals we are concerned about the welfare of the remaining animal,” said zoo director Steve Burns.

Zoo Boise received two Patas monkeys from Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo in Florida three years ago. Now the authorities will have to decide on either bringing another Patas monkey to Boise or to relocate the one here to another AZA-accredited facility.

Patas monkeys are from the plains of Africa and typically weigh 35 pounds and stand at 2 1/2 feet tall, according to Zoo Boise. 

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