Monkey at Dodge City zoo suffers broken kneecap from suspected kidnapper

Vern recovers from his injury (City of Dodge City) Vern recovers from his injury (City of Dodge City)

A Tufted Capuchin monkey from a zoo in Dodge City is recovering from surgery after being injured while defending a younger monkey from being taken from it's enclosure. 

The incident happened on September 3rd. Staff members at the Wright Park Zoo were notified by authorities that a monkey had been reported found in the city limits. A quick inspection at the Capuchin Monkey exhibit determined that the animal called in was Pickett from the Wright Park Zoo troop. 

Pickett was captured by animal control and returned to his enclosure. A second animal from the enclosure was initially reported to have been treated for minor injuries. 

(Monkey found in Dodge City, another injured at zoo enclosure)

A news release from the city of Dodge City has identified the second animal as an older Tufted Capuchin monkey named Vern. Further treatment of Vern's injury determined that the damage was more extensive than originally thought and would require surgery. 

“Based on DCPD’s investigation as of today, 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.  His father’s injury appears to be from blunt force trauma in excess of what would occur from a fall.” 

Investigators believe someone got into the enclosure and injured Vern as he tried to protect his son, Pickett, from being taken. 

Hannah Schroder, 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.

Vern successfully underwent surgery on September 10th and the investigation continues as he recovers. 

“Vern is recovering well but will have to spend the next 6-8 weeks away from his family while he recovers,” Schroder said. “He is back at the zoo and will remain behind the scenes until his injuries are healed.”

“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 and idea who would do this. If that’s you, we would greatly appreciate talking with you.”

Anyone with information on the case can submit an anonymous tip by texting "DCPD" and your tip to 847411 (tip411). 

Or an app can be downloaded for iPhone here , and Android here

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