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Dallas Zoo security ‘failing’ at job, former employee says

(NewsNation) — A former Dallas Zoo security guard told NewsNation that the people who should be protecting animals are “failing at their job” after a string of breaches at the zoo.

“The people that were hired to prevent this stuff are failing at their job, and that ultimately relies on security,” the former guard said.

“This upsets me quite a bit. Because as security you’re hired to protect that property and whatever creatures are there — human or animals,” the guard exclusively told NewsNation. “The Dallas Zoo is a huge black market gold mine — always has been.”

In just two weeks, four different investigations have been opened involving animals and breached enclosures. The latest disappearance of two emperor tamarin monkeys from their enclosure was the fourth incident in the last two weeks at the Dallas Zoo. The two monkeys were found Tuesday evening, after Dallas police said they received a tip. Police said they went to an empty home in Lancaster, located just south of Dallas, and found the monkeys safe in a closet.

The monkeys have been returned to the zoo.

Earlier this month a clouded leopard named Nova escaped her enclosure after a cutting tool was used to make a hole in her habitat’s fence. The same type of hole was discovered in the langur monkey enclosure soon after.

Last week, a lappet-faced vulture was found dead in its enclosure with a wound that zoo officials described as “not natural.” The investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The former security guard joined NewsNation anonymously to protect his identity, as well as the safety of his former coworkers. He says was contracted through the third-party security firm GardaWorld in 2022, but ultimately left after seven months after he says GardaWorld didn’t take his concerns seriously. GardaWorld did not return NewsNation’s request for comment.

The former employee claims there are nearly 10 vulnerable entries into the zoo that someone could get past. He claims he was often advised not to go after people seen as trespassers and that some security guards on duty were aggressive.

The former security guard told NewsNation that he quit his job after he flagged security concerns, but they weren’t taken seriously by management.

When asked by NewsNation’s Markie Martin if he felt unsafe at work, he said yes.

“I even brought this up with my higher-ups and they did not care,” he said. “And that was a huge problem, we’re all carrying firearms and I didn’t want to have to draw my firearm in self-defense.”

According to zoo officials, more than 100 cameras monitor the zoo at all times.

In the wake of these security leaks, the Dallas Zoo has heightened surveillance measures: adding more camera, doubling security and increasing staffing.

The Dallas Police Department is conducting an ongoing investigation into these breaches. But the former security guard is still upset.

“Something needs to be done. And I’m not gonna sit there and let this big security company get away with this stuff while animals and people ultimately will get hurt. That’s not okay with me.”

Dallas PD said they are looking to identify and question a man they believe has crucial information about the tamarin monkeys and are offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.