Have you ever wondered what it takes to capture a suspect? For the Dallas Zoo, it took the sharp eyes of Paula Carlson, the director of husbandry at the Dallas World Aquarium. After the zoo circulated an image of 24-year-old Davion Irvin, Carlson and her colleagues were on the lookout all week. On Thursday, their wide eyes paid off when they spotted Irvin and called the Dallas Zoo, leading to his arrest.
The incident began when two emperor tamarin monkeys were taken from their habitat and the clouded leopard and langur monkey exhibits were tampered with. The leopard escaped and was missing for several hours before being found on zoo grounds. In response, the Dallas Zoo circulated an image of Irvin and asked for the public’s help in locating him.
Carlson and her colleagues at the Dallas World Aquarium were on heightened alert all week. On Thursday afternoon, one of the aquarium’s staff members spotted Irvin and alerted Carlson. She then approached the man and chatted with him about the underwater life they were observing. He asked routine questions about manatees, octopus and sawfish and didn’t seem different to Carlson than any other aquarium guest.
Carlson didn’t want to smother him with attention, so she made sure to engage other guests while keeping an eye on him and letting security know what she was doing. She didn’t recognize him as a frequent visitor, but she noticed he looked familiar because she had seen his picture on social media. When the man left the aquarium, Carlson jumped on the phone and let a friend at the Dallas Zoo know. The zoo then called police and they got on the suspect’s trail.
The public’s help was crucial in making the arrest. Irvin was being held in the Dallas County jail on two counts of burglary of a building, five counts of cruelty to non-livestock animals and one count of cruelty to livestock animals, according to jail records.
Thanks to the sharp eyes of Paula Carlson and her colleagues at the Dallas World Aquarium, the Dallas Zoo was able to apprehend the suspect and get justice for the animals. It just goes to show the power of the public working together to make a difference.