2 charged in theft of Gainesville college zoo animals; reward offered

3rd man charged with trying to buy monkey stolen from Santa Fe College zoo

By Nick Jones - Digital producer, Francine Frazier - Senior web producer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Police have charged two men in connection with the theft of 11 animals from the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo, according to a release from the college.

A third man has been charged with dealing in stolen property for trying to buy one of the animals, the college said.

Clay County native Austin Bruno, a student at Santa Fe College, turned himself in to police early Thursday morning, just days after Sedrick T. Price, 20, was charged with grand theft, the college said.

Investigators said Price is a resident of the Crossings at Santa Fe Apartments, and police recovered seven of the stolen animals from that complex Monday night. The college said three Florida box turtles, two red-foot tortoises, a skink and a squirrel monkey were recovered.

Santa Fe police chief Ed Book said Bruno and Price went into the zoo after hours and took the animals between May 23-24 and May 29-30.

Bruno has been charged with two counts of burglary and two counts of grand theft.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Bruno would not provide information about the remaining missing animals," Book said. "Two gopher tortoises and two box turtles are still missing and are in need of medical attention.”

DipasqualeThe animals recovered at the apartment complex were taken during the overnight hours between May 29-30. The zoo had evidence the animals were stolen.

One of those animals was Mani, the squirrel monkey. The college said Daniel Jose Dipasquale (pictured) was charged with attempting to deal in stolen merchandise after he offered $3,000 to buy Mani.

The college's police department acted on a tip in finding the animals at the complex and arresting Price, the college said. Zoo employees and students helped identify the animals.

The Santa Fe Police Department is continuing its investigation to track down the remaining animals. Anyone with information as to where they might be is urged to call police at 352-395-5519.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward up to $500 for the safe return of each of the four missing animals.

If you have information concerning the four remaining missing animals, contact Crime Stoppers at 352-372-STOP.

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