SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Police said on Friday they arrested a man suspected of stealing a tailed lemur ring from the San Francisco Zoo, where officials rewarded a 5-year-old boy who helped to retrieve the threatened principal to a lifelong member.
The theft of Maki, a 21-year-old arthritic lemur, reported Wednesday in San Francisco and more and more zoo officials reported missing the animal and found evidence of forced entry into his cage.
Five-year-old James Trinh was unaware of the headlines when he left his preschool on Thursday in Daly City, about 5 miles from the zoo, and exclaimed, “There is a lemur! There is a lemur! Cynthia Huang, director of Hope Lutheran Day School, told the San Francisco Chronicle Friday.
Huang hesitated at first. “I thought, Are you sure it’s not a racoon?” he says.
Maki circled from the parking lot to the school playground and took refuge in a small play house, as the police school call quickly alerted animal control officers and zoos. Children, parents and teachers watched as caregivers arrived and rolled the lemur into a cage cage, Huang said.
Also on Thursday, police arrested 30-year-old Cory McGilloway, San Francisco police Lt. Scott Ryan to reporters on Friday.
McGilloway, identified by investigators as a lemur abduction suspect, was arrested Thursday night by San Rafael police in unrelated cases. He expects to be transferred to the San Francisco County Jail to be booked on burglary cases, major animal theft, robbery and vandalism related to lemur theft, Ryan said.
Police did not provide further details, saying the investigation is still ongoing but credited a multi-agency effort and tips on a public tip line that led to the arrest of the suspect.
San Francisco Zoo director Tanya Peterson said Maki was “an aging wild animal in need of special care” for ailments including arthritis. “He is still agitating, dehydrated and starving,” he said, adding that veterinary teams are working to get him back to health. Because of his travels, he added, “He is socially estranged from his primate family” but will hopefully join other lemurs soon.
Authorities have offered a $ 2,100 reward for finding Maki, which will be donated to the church zoo.
“I understand that there was a boy there who witnessed it and was also called on the tip, and we give his family a free zoo member,” said Tanya Peterson, zoo director, who thanked the child and everyone who helped . “They really saved a life.”