Kansas Zoo Monkey Called 'Vern' Has Surgery After Breaking Bones Trying to Stop Intruder From Taking His Son

Kansas zoo officials say a monkey that sustained injuries while trying to protect his son during a suspected break-in this month is recovering well after the incident.

The older monkey, named Vern, will be separated from his family for several weeks after having surgery on a broken knee cap—performed by experts from Kansas State University on September 10. An investigation remains ongoing, but police say the monkey may have been injured by a fall.

The Wright Park Zoo confirmed it was first notified by the Dodge City Police Department that an animal had been found in city limits on September 3.

It was quickly identified as a young capuchin Monkey called Pickett, who was given back to staff and safely returned to the enclosure after being checked by vets.

Vern was taken into care after being found with injuries in the exhibit area, zoo officials said in a statement on Facebook that included an image of the smaller monkey. Detectives suspect the monkey was hurt while attempting to protect his offspring from an intruder, who has not been found.

"We do not believe [Pickett] found his way outside the enclosure on his own," said 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," Francis continued in a statement shared by the Kansas zoo. "Though I doubt the culprit has the decency to come forward, I also suspect someone may know who committed this act or have an idea who would do this. If that's you, we would greatly appreciate talking with you."

The police investigation into the monkey theft remains ongoing but there have been no significant developments so far, a Wright Park Zoo spokesperson told the Associated Press on Monday.

"Vern is very protective of the younger monkey and would not have let him go without a fight," head zookeeper Hannah Schroeder said in an earlier statement.

"Unfortunately, this suspected altercation resulted in a broken knee cap. Vern is recovering well but will have to spend the next 6-8 weeks away from his family while he recovers. He is back at the zoo and will remain behind the scenes until his injuries are healed," Schroeder added.

According to staff, Vern has been at the zoo since 1988. Alongside a female named Charro, he has at least four offspring. They live with their two youngest sons, Jack and Pickett.

Wright Park Zoo said: "Capuchin monkeys are native to South America and live mostly in trees, only coming to the ground occasionally for food and water. Their populations are declining in the wild as they face threats of deforestation, habitat loss, and capture for the pet trade."

Vern Monkey
The older monkey, Vern, will be separated from his family for several weeks after having surgery on a broken knee cap—performed by experts from Kansas State University on September 10. Wright Park Zoo/Facebook
Kansas Zoo Monkey Called 'Vern' Has Surgery After Breaking Bones Trying to Stop Intruder From Taking His Son | News