BROUSSARD, La. (KLFY) — An arrest has been made in the theft of several squirrel monkeys from Zoosiana Jan. 28, authorities said.
Joseph Randell, 61, of Opelousas was arrested and booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on charges of burglary and 12 counts of cruelty to animals. Broussard Police Detectives with the assistance of Opelousas Police Department executed a search warrant and arrest warrant.
Chief Vance Olivier, with Broussard Police Department, said, “Investigators developed a lead on a potential suspect, which led up to an arrest and a search warrant of his residence. He was out of Opelousas, and we affected the arrest with the assistance of the Opelousas Police Department.”
Chief Olivier said that he believes good detective work, in addition to vetting through a lot of video footage from the zoo helped them to develop leads from that point.
“Through the course of the interview, we still haven’t located the monkeys, and we know that he was the suspect that actually burglarized it, but we haven’t located the monkeys at this point in the investigation,” Olivier said.
No monkeys were recovered. The whereabouts of the monkeys is still currently under investigation. Investigators are still unsure if there is any connection between this case and the Dallas Zoo cases.
After the arrest, Zoosiana spokesperson Lanie Baudouin released the following statement.
“We sincerely thank all officers and detectives involved in this case and commend the skill and tenacious diligence of the Broussard Police Department,” Baudouin said. “While this situation continues to be incredibly upsetting, we are very thankful for the tremendous progress that has been made to get this case to where it is today. We extend our thanks to the local, state, and federal agencies who assisted in the investigation. At Zoosiana, excellence in animal care remains our top priority and our focus continues to be on the health, safety, and well-being of our animals, in particular our remaining Squirrel Monkeys. We continue to be attentive to their needs and in helping to rebuild trust within the troop. We kindly ask that any additional questions related to the investigation be directed to the Broussard Police Department.”
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.