SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Police said Friday they arrested a man suspected of stealing a ring-tailed lemur from the San Francisco Zoo, where authorities rewarded a 5-year-old boy who helped recapture a looted primate with a lifetime membership.
The theft of Maki, a 21-year-old Lemur with rheumatoid arthritis, was reported Wednesday by zoo officials in San Francisco and beyond with missing animals and evidence of forced entry into its enclosure.
Five-year-old James Trinh was unaware of the headlines as he walked out of his preschool in Daly City, about 5 miles from the zoo on Thursday, and said, “There’s a lamer! There’s Lamar! Cynthia Huang, director of Hope Lutheran Day School, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday.
Huang was suspicious at first. “I thought, are you sure he’s not a North American raccoon?” She said.
Leaving the parking lot on the school playground, Maki took refuge in a miniature playhouse, as the school called police who quickly alerted animal control and zoo officials. Children, parents and teachers watched as they watched and tied the lemur to a transport cage, Huang said.
On Thursday, police took 30-year-old Corey McGillow into custody, San Francisco Police Lt. Scott Rhea told reporters Friday.
McGillow, whose investigators identified Lamar as a suspect in the abduction, was arrested Thursday evening by San Rafael police on an unrelated charge. Raine said he will be transferred to the San Francisco County Jail, where he will be charged with burglary, animal theft, robbery and vandalism related to lamer theft.
Police did not provide further details, saying the investigation is still ongoing but attributed to a multi-agency effort and tips on the public tip line that led to the arrest of the suspect.
San Francisco Zoo director Tanya Petersen said Maki was “an elderly wild animal that needed special care” for diseases, including arthritis. “He is still agitated, dehydrated and hungry,” he said, adding that veterinary teams are working to bring him back to health. Due to his travels, he added, “he is socially away from his family” but hopefully he will join other lemurs soon.
Officials offered a 2,100 reward for information leading to the capture of Maki.
“I understand that there is a little boy who witnessed this and called for his help, and we are giving his family a free membership to the zoo,” said Tanya Peterson, the zoo’s director, who thanked the boy and helped. “They literally saved lives.”