FORD COUNTY — Law enforcement and zoo officials are investigating injuries to a monkey at the zoo in Dodge City.
Wright Park Zoo and City staff previously released information that an older Tufted Capuchin Monkey, Vern, was found with minor injuries the same morning it was reported that another Capuchin from the Zoo’s troop, Pickett, was located just outside City Limits, according to a media release.
After further veterinary treatment, it was found that the injury was more extensive than it initially appeared and would require surgery. When originally reported, it was not yet determined how Pickett came to be outside the enclosure or how Vern was injured.
“Based on DCPD’s investigation as of Friday, 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. The older monkey’s injury appears to be from blunt force trauma in excess of what would occur from a fall.”
Officer’s conducting the investigation suspect that someone gained access to the enclosure and injured the older monkey as he tried to protect his offspring from being taken.
Hannah Schroeder, Head Zookeeper, said, “Vern is very protective of the younger monkey and would not have let him go without a fight. Unfortunately, this suspected altercation resulted in a broken knee cap.”
After many discussions with the Zoo’s contracted veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Wipf, it was decided that the, “best course of action for recovery was for Vern to be transferred to Kansas State University for surgery,” Schroeder said.
Surgery was performed on September 10, 2019, by veterinary and orthopedic specialists at Kansas State University to repair the broken bones and was deemed successful.
“Vern is recovering well but will have to spend the next 6-8 weeks away from his family while he recovers,” Schroeder said. “He is back at the zoo and will remain behind the scenes until his injuries are healed.”
While Vern recovers, the investigation into the incident continues, Francis said.
“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.”