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12 monkeys still missing as suspect arrested in theft from Louisiana zoo

Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images

(BROUSSARD, La.) — Police have arrested a man in connection with the theft of 12 squirrel monkeys from a Louisiana zoo last month. However, the monkeys still remain at large.

Joseph Randall, 61, was arrested and booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. He is charged with burglary and 12 counts of cruelty to animals.

Officials are still investigating the whereabouts of the monkeys. Police identified the suspect through a combination of surveillance video and investigative work, the Broussard Police Department told ABC News.

It has not yet been determined if the suspect visited the zoo in advance of the late-night theft on Jan. 28.

Police are trying to determine what Randall allegedly did with the monkeys.

George Matthew Oldenburg, the owner of Zoosiana, which is located in Broussard, told ABC News that he does not know the suspect and there does not appear to be a connection between him or anyone at the zoo.

The thief had first targeted the facilities of smaller primates before gaining access to the squirrel monkey exhibit and successfully stealing 12 of the 38 monkeys in that enclosure, according to zoo officials.

The thief tried to capture a marmoset monkey, but the monkey escaped its enclosure. Zoo officials were later able to catch the monkey and return it to its habitat, zoo officials said.

Oldenburg said he found it strange that no one has come forward with any information about the monkeys’ whereabouts.

He told ABC News he believes police are currently questioning the suspect, but said he is being “left in the dark with any particulars right now.”

The thief evidently brought tools to cut the wire, break locks and destroy the enclosure. It appears the monkeys were taken in a burlap sack as one was left behind at the scene, Oldenburg told ABC News last week.

To protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, police have not released any further information and have not shared much information with the zoo.

Police said they are still unaware if there is any connection between this theft and suspicious activity at the Dallas Zoo. They have been in contact with the Dallas Zoo, but believe there will not be any connection.

Two emperor tamarin monkeys were stolen from their habitat at the Dallas Zoo last month. They have since been recovered and a suspect has been arrested in connection with the theft.

He was charged with six counts of animal cruelty in connection with the tamarin monkeys and has since been charged with two counts of burglary to a building.

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