‘We will not tolerate theft or endangerment of our animals’: Keepers find fence cut at Houston Zoo

Houston police were investigating Tuesday after it was discovered that a mesh fence was cut at the Houston Zoo.

Houston police were investigating Tuesday after it was discovered that a mesh fence was cut at the Houston Zoo.

According to zoo officials, keepers noticed a four-inch gap in the mesh of the brown pelican habitat in the Children’s Zoo.

They immediately determined that the animals in the exhibit were secure and unharmed, and then alerted the Zoo’s security team.

The gap appears to be the result of vandalism.

Out of an abundance of caution, all other animal areas were closely examined, and nothing similar was found. Zoo security also informed HPD, which sent officers out to look at the area.

Zoo officials released a statement saying they are prepared to prosecute to the fullest extent allowed by law anyone who compromises the animals in their care.

“We will not tolerate the theft or endangerment of any of our animals, big or small,” the release stated. “These animals represent their wild counterparts and are entirely dependent upon the expert care of our staff. Actions that threaten that care are unacceptable, dangerous, and criminal.”

This is one of several incidents of fence cutting recently discovered at zoos in the country.

In January, police arrested a 24-year-old man accused of taking two tamarin monkeys - named Bella and Finn - from the Dallas Zoo. The monkeys in the closet of a vacant house in Lancaster, a Dallas suburb about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of the zoo.

The suspect, Davion Irvin, has been charged with six counts of animal cruelty and two counts of burglary, police said.

Police also linked Irvin to the escape of a small leopard. On Jan. 13, arriving Dallas zoo workers found that a clouded leopard named Nova was missing from her cage, and police said a cutting tool had been intentionally used to make an opening in her enclosure. The zoo closed as a search for her got underway, and she was found later that day near her habitat.

Zoo workers had also found a similar tear in an enclosure for langur monkeys, though none got out or appeared harmed, police said.

On Jan. 21, zoo workers found an endangered lappet-faced vulture named Pin dead. Gregg Hudson, the zoo’s president and CEO, called the death “very suspicious” and said the vulture had “a wound.”

As of this writing, the death of the vulture had not been linked to Irvin.

In Louisiana, 12 squirrel monkeys were discovered missing from their enclosure at a zoo.

Officials said their habitat at Zoosiana in Broussard, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Baton Rouge, had been “compromised” and some damage was done to get in, city Police Chief Vance Olivier said. He declined to provide further details on the damage, citing the ongoing investigation.

Zoosiana said in a Facebook post that the remaining monkeys had been assessed and appeared unharmed.