DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – A monkey from the Wright Park Zoo is recovering from surgery after he was found injured.
Vern, an older Tufted Capuchin, was found with an injured knee on Sept. 3. He was taken to Kansas State University for surgery on Sept. 10.
Dodge City Police Department says Vern’s son Pickett was found on the same day outside of city limits. Animal control was able to catch Pickett and return him to the zoo. The next day, officials blamed his escape on bad fencing. But now they believe he may have been taken.
“Based on DCPD’s investigation as of today, we do not believe the little monkey, Pickett, found his way outside the enclosure on his own,” said Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis. “Nor do we believe he traveled to where he was found on his own. His father’s injury appears to be from blunt force trauma in excess of what would occur from a fall.”
Authorities believe someone gained access to their enclosure and injured Vern as he tried to protect his offspring from being taken.
“Vern is very protective of the younger monkey and would not have let him go without a fight,” Hannah Schroder, Head Zookeeper said. “Unfortunately, this suspected altercation resulted in a broken knee cap.”
Schroder says Vern is back at the zoo but will need to spend the next six to eight weeks away from his family while he recovers.
Police Chief Francis says the incident is still under investigation.
“Though I doubt the culprit has the decency to come forward,” Francis said. “I also suspect someone may know who committed this act or have an idea who would do this. If that’s you, we would greatly appreciate talking with you.”
If you have any information regarding this case please contact Dodge City Police. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can do so by texting “DCPD” and your tip to 847411 (tip411).
Vern came to the Wright Park Zoo in 1988 with a female named Charro. The pair live with their two youngest sons, Jack and Pickett. The Capuchin monkeys are native to South America. Their populations are declining in the wild as they face threats of deforestation, habitat loss, and capture for the pet trade.