BOISE -- Boise Police are hoping a ballcap left at Zoo Boise early Saturday morning will help lead to the suspects in the apparent beating death of a patas monkey.
Police say at about 4:30 a.m., a security guard spotted two men, one outside the zoo's perimeter fence, one just inside. They ran, and police couldn't find them - even after using thermal imaging equipment. But, near the primate exhibit where the suspects were spotted, they found one of the zoo's patas monkeys, with a serious head injury. A vet was called immediately, but the monkey died.
A necropsy conducted by a zoo veterinarian showed that the monkey died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck.
Police believe the men left behind a grey ballcap with the design of a skull and wings on the right front.
"I noticed the police cars, and I noticed the yellow tape," said Lena Svancara, who, like many parents Saturday, brought her kids to Zoo Boise. But, she found it closed, with police tape up. Police had the zoo closed for most of the day (it was open from 2pm to 5pm), as they combed the grounds, looking for evidence.
"It's heartbreaking," said Svancara. "I don't understand why people would do anything to hurt animals. It just doesn't make any sense."
"That person is kind of disturbed," said Ryan Hardy, who brought his daughter to the zoo. "Who would break into a zoo, and kill a monkey?"
People we talked to were confused and angry.
"It makes you wonder what the world is coming to," said Ralph Higer.
Steve Burns, Executive Director of Zoo Boise, says those who work at the zoo and care for these animals every day, are crushed.
"My heart goes out to all the staff and volunteers," said Burns. "They do a great job of taking care of our animals, and when I told them that this happened this morning, they were devastated."
Burns says the monkey had been at the zoo for about 3 years, and in that time, he likely had hundreds of thousands of visitors.
"The people come, and they have their favorites, and monkeys are amongst the favorites," said Burns. "Now you have to explain something like this to them. It's just sad that that's the case."
Burns says there's now only one patas monkey at the zoo. He says, since they're social animals, they have to have at least two. So, if they can't bring in another monkey, they'll have to give up the one they have to another zoo.
Police say both suspects were men were wearing dark clothing, and they're doing everything they can to find them.
Anyone with information on the cap or the crime is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS.
A reward of up to $1,000 is offered by Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest of criminal suspects.