Michael Watkins arrested for killing monkey at Zoo Boise

    8:28 AM, Nov 20, 2012   |    comments
    Michael Watkins of Weiser, Idaho is under arrest for killing a monkey at Zoo Boise.
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    BOISE, ID (CBS/KBOI) - Police arrest a Treasure Valley man in connection to the beating and death of a monkey at Zoo Boise.

    Boise police charged a Weiser man with two felonies after Saturday's zoo break in and at this point, police say the man acted alone once inside the zoo.

    The Boise police chief held up a picture of Michael Watkins at Monday evening's press conference. Chief Michael Masterson says, "Arrested shortly before 2 p.m. this afternoon by Boise officers. He is now in the custody of Washington County Jail."

    He's facing felony charges burglary and grand theft. Investigators say those crimes carry much more severe penalties in Idaho than animal cruelty. Police say they zeroed in on the 22-year-old of Weiser thanks to a citizen tip. Masterson says, "It turned out to be very reliable and subsequently the hat turned out to be the hat the individual, the suspect we had arrested, had worn that evening."

    Investigators also say they spoke with the second person involved in the case. Masterson says, "We believe he was the individual outside the gate and at this point there are no charges that are pending against him."

    The police chief called the crime a senseless one saying the news hit the community hard. Boise resident Jeanette Jenkins says, "It was awful. Just an animal and someone actually breaking into the zoo is heartbreaking. I am glad someone caught them."

    Police say the suspect broke into Zoo Boise, removed the Patas monkey from its enclosure and left it for dead. An autopsy revealed the animal died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

    The director of Zoo Boise, Steve Burns, says his staff is pleased with the arrest. He says, "I want to thank the police, they were incredible. They were not only on top of it doing their jobs, but they were so empathetic. You can imagine how upset my staff was."

    Burns says he is actively looking for another Patas monkey to bring to Zoo Boise.

    A burglary charge means a suspect broke in and intended to commit a theft. A grand theft charge is defined as taking or deliberately killing an animal worth more than $150. Both charges carry a maximum of 14 years.

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