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Monkey death: Arrest made in Idaho zoo case

Monkey death arrest: Police arrest a man who they believe beat a monkey to death during a burglary at a Boise zoo. A $1,000 award was offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.

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Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson, with Zoo Boise Director Steve Burns, announces the arrest of Michael J. Watkins, who investigators suspect was involved in the death of a Patas monkey at Zoo Boise after breaking into the zoo on Saturday.

(AP Photo/The Idaho Statesman, Darin Oswald)

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Police have arrested one of two men who they believe broke into an Idaho zoo the night a monkey there died from blunt-force trauma, but questions remain about how and why the animal was killed.

Michael J. Watkins, 22, of Weiser was arrested Monday in Washington County on felony burglary and grand theft charges.

A tip from a citizen led police to Watkins after identifying a hat found in the monkey's enclosure as similar to one Watkins was wearing the night two intruders were spotted at Zoo Boise. A security guard frightened away the intruders, then discovered the gravely injured patas monkey, which died a short time later.

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Masterson said at a news conference Monday evening that Watkins sought care at a hospital for injuries to his upper torso sometime after the early Saturday incident. The story he gave to hospital staff "did not seem to mesh up with the injuries," Masterson said.

The monkey's death has left zoo workers shocked and devastated, zoo director Steve Burns said. The Crime Stoppers organization offered an award of up to $1,000 for information leading to the culprits' arrest.

Investigators had not had a chance to question Watkins extensively and have not revealed whether they think the zoo break-in was a prank that turned violent or something done with more sinister intent. But the police department and community are "angered and outraged over this senseless crime," Masterson said.

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