Police are looking for two suspects who broke into a Boise, Idaho, zoo and apparently beat a monkey to death.
The break-in at Zoo Boise occurred early Saturday.
A security guard told officers he spotted two males in dark clothing, one inside the zoo grounds and the other outside the fence near the primate exhibit. When the suspects saw the guard, they ran.
Police searched the 11-acre zoo, including one sweep with a thermal imager, but did not find the suspects.
During the search, officers and zoo employees found a Patas monkey lying next to the perimeter fence near the primate exhibit where the suspects were last seen. The monkey appeared to have a head injury and died a short time later.
Detectives collected blood evidence at the scene that's being tested to determine if it's blood from the monkey or a human.
"It's very disturbing that someone would intentionally break into the zoo and harm an animal. We're doing all we can to find who did this." said Sgt. Ted Snyder of the Boise Police Department.
“Everybody here at the zoo is devastated,” zoo Director Steve Burns said in a statement.
“It’s sad to have to tell kids that one of their favorite animals is gone.”
A veterinarian is conducting a necropsy of the monkey to determine the cause of death. All the other zoo animals were accounted for and uninjured.
Patas monkeys are ground-dwelling animals from the plains of Africa. At 2 ½ feet, they typically weigh 35 pounds, according to a zoo statement.
Patas monkeys are rare in zoos but are not endangered in the wild, says Burns. There is one remaining male Patas monkey at the zoo. Both of the animals came to Zoo Boise three years ago from the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Bay, Fla.
“Because monkeys are social animals we are concerned about the welfare of the remaining animal,” said Burns. The zoo will explore opportunities to replace the monkey or move the remaining animal to another zoo.
More content from NBCNews.com:
- Body found at scene of oil platform explosion in Gulf of Mexico, Coast Guard says
- NTSB: Warning signals activated before vets' float pulled onto train tracks
- 6 officers injured when 2 police helicopters collide in Pasadena
- Foul smell leads police to dismembered woman in Southern California
- Large amounts of bomb-making chemicals found in doctor's home, authorities say
- Video: Who is Holly Petraeus