A former security guard at the Dallas Zoo said he has been plagued by animal trafficking problems for years and that his security contractor advised guards not to confront trespassers.
The anonymous man worked at the zoo for seven months in 2022, but told NewsNation he quit after managers turned him down when he raised concerns for the safety of the animals, guests and staff.
He said the zoo saw numerous repeat trespassers while working there, and that he suspects one of them is likely responsible for the spate of animal thefts and possible attempts the zoo has faced in the past month.
Four incidents rocked the Dallas Zoo in January, including the apparently intentional release of a leopard, an attempted break-in at a monkey enclosure, the ‘suspicious’ death of a vulture and the theft of two tamarin monkeys that were later discovered in the closet of an abandoned house near the zoo.
Police released a photo of a man walking through the zoo eating a bag of Doritos who they are trying to identify and talk about the incident. Dallas police told DailyMail.com the man has not been named as a suspect or person of interest.
Police are investigating after two emperor tamarins were ‘deliberately’ removed from their enclosure
The former security guard also told NewsNation that he wasn’t surprised when he learned of the security breaches at the Dallas Zoo.
‘This bothers me quite a bit. Because as security, they hire you to protect that property and the creatures that are there, humans or animals,” he said.
And the Dallas Zoo is a huge black market gold mine. Always has been.’
The man did not provide specific instances to substantiate his claims about animal trafficking at the zoo.
The Dallas Police Department told DailyMail.com it had no records of animals stolen from the zoo in recent years. The zoo did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.
However, the former employee said the security company was to blame for leaving the zoo vulnerable to theft, and pointed to ten locations that he characterized as vulnerable entry points to the zoo.
“Something has to be done, and I’m not going to sit there and let this big security company get away with it while animals and people ultimately get hurt.”
The anonymous man worked at the zoo for seven months during 2022, but said he quit after managers turned him down when he raised concerns for the safety of the animals, guests and staff.
The search for the missing clouded leopard Nova (pictured) shut down the Dallas Zoo on January 13 as police helped search for the animal.
On January 21, an endangered 35-year-old vulture named Pin was found dead, and the zoo issued a statement saying his death did not appear to be “natural.”
The man did not clarify whether or not he thought the recent incidents could be an inside job.
“The way I read it is that someone is failing to prevent these things.” he said.
“The people who were hired to prevent these things are failing at their job and that ultimately comes down to safety.”
The zoo’s external security consultant, Gardaworld, did not respond to DailyMail.com’s requests for comment.
“I hope the zoo is safe again, because that place is something that people should be able to treasure for years to come,” the former employee said.
Dallas police are searching for this man who is believed to have been in the area when two monkeys were stolen from the zoo on Sunday.
Yesterday, Dallas police followed an anonymous tip to an abandoned house just south of the zoo in Lancaster, Texas, and discovered missing emperor tamarins alive in a closet. They were returned safely to the zoo.
Zoo officials confirmed that the monkey’s enclosure appeared to have been forced with a sharp tool.
Just days earlier, a similar cut was found in the zoo’s langur monkey enclosure, and the zoo was closed on January 13 while staff searched for a clouded leopard that appeared to have escaped through a man-made opening. The leopard was eventually found inside the zoo near its enclosure.
And on January 21, an endangered 35-year-old vulture named Pin was found dead, and the zoo issued a statement saying his death did not appear to be “natural.”
The zoo’s president and CEO, Gregg Hudson, said the vulture had “an injury” and that the “circumstances of death are unusual.”
Police were called back to the scene at the Dallas Zoo on Monday to investigate the disappearance of the two emperor tamarins.
Police cars are pictured outside the Dallas Zoo as workers as police officers searched for the missing cloud leopard earlier this month.
The Dallas Police Department was again alerted, and the zoo admitted they contacted authorities due to “recent incidents.”
Ed Hansen, executive director of the American Association of Zookeepers, said he couldn’t recall a zoo that faced similar incidents so frequently.
“Sounds like someone really has a problem with the Dallas Zoo,” Hansen said.
Hansen, who described the Dallas Zoo’s reputation as “excellent” within the industry, said accredited zoos have double-perimeter fencing and that a zoo as large as the one in Dallas would have a security patrol.
But the animals have escaped from the Dallas Zoo enclosures before.
Most notably, a 340-pound gorilla named Jabari jumped over a wall in 2004 and went on a 40-minute rampage that injured three people before police shot and killed the animal.