The two mustached tamarin monkeys that disappeared from the Dallas Zoo were found in a vacant house not far away. Zoo authorities had zeroed in on the abduction suspect, Davion Irvin, rather early, after zoo employees became alarmed at his behavior. He had arrived at the zoo on numerous occasions with a notebook and carefully wrote down answers to such questions as “Where do y’all get the monkeys” and “When does everyone go home for the day” and “What gauge wire is that in the monkey fencing” and “How soft are those monkeys really.”

Mr. Irvin stashed his monkeys in his backpack, where they made quick work of his emergency granola bar and flang feces as far as they could (three inches). He took them on public transit to the vacant house where his other purloined animals were already squatting or, in some cases, peeing directly on the walls.

This is highly unusual behavior. Most men (they’re usually from Florida) abduct rare animals in their pants—your snakes, your ferrets, what-have-you—counting on the public’s unwillingness to look directly at a man with unruly or rambunctious trousers. The practice is not without its hazards, but it has advantages, too: one fellow eventually arrested for stealing packets of frozen shrimp in his pants quickly found he had room for two bonus packets after the initial ones were tucked away. (Women are rarely known to commit a similar crime; “snatch” has a whole different derivation.)

Mr. Irvin claimed to be an animal lover, so it is disturbing that he is also suspected in the death of the zoo’s rare lappet-faced vulture, unless he was intending to attract more lappet-faced vultures with it.

He also admitted to attempting to make off with the clouded leopard, but succeeded only in giving her a pet-pet a before she climbed out of his reach, and he never did find out who was a good girl.

What really struck me about the heist was what Mr. Irvin was ultimately charged with: six counts of “cruelty to non-livestock animals.” Abject cruelty to animals is a hundred percent legal in this country as long as someone plans to eat them or strip milk from them or swipe their eggs some day.

No one eats monkey meat here. In Africa monkey meat is routinely served with a side of Ebola virus, and enough monkeys have been plated up that at least one species has been eaten into extinction: Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus. In other news, Miss Waldron’s first name was Fanny, and her red colobus was described as largely covered with black fur.

Anyway, if you glance at the USDA’s grades and standards for cattle, for instance, you will quickly encounter words like “slaughter steer” and “cutability” but nothing about hopes and dreams. Cattle must go to market by a certain age so that they do not grow too big for the saws. Nothing about any of this suggests anyone’s saving up for the animals’ Health Savings Accounts.

Standard poultry practices allow virtually any treatment that does not kill the bird outright before its time, which is about six weeks. Not that the death of the bird before nuggetability is illegal, but it’s not profitable. The basic difference between the meat wrapped in plastic and styrofoam and the meat a week beforehand is it’s no longer suffering.

I like chickens, and I also like chicken. It’s a problem. Now, my Uncle Cliff’s chickens were in great shape, assuming they did not have existential dread, and I never saw any signs of that. They got the run of the yard and all the grasshoppers they could eat and a nice place to roost and their lives were zipping along just fine until my uncle abbreviated them with his hatchet, and I’m here to tell you, that’s just about the way I want to go, too—one second of “What’s that THWACK” and oblivion.

I definitely don’t want to end up in a Florida man’s pants.