SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Police said Friday they had arrested a man who is suspected of stealing a ring-tailed lemur from the San Francisco Zoo. Officials rewarded a 5-year-old boy who helped recapture the endangered primate with a lifetime membership.
The theft of Maki, an arthritic 21-year-old Maki, made the news known in San Francisco and beyond on Wednesday, when zoo officials reported the missing animal and found evidence of forced entry into its enclosure.
Unaware of the headlines, five-year-old James Trinh left his preschool in Daly City, about five miles from the zoo on Thursday, exclaiming, “There’s a maki! There is a maki! “Cynthia Huang, director of Hope Lutheran Day School, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday.
Huang was initially skeptical. “I thought are you sure it isn’t a raccoon?” She said.
Maki rushed from the parking lot to the school playground and escaped to a miniature playhouse when the school called the police, who quickly alerted animal control and zoo officials. The children, parents, and teachers watched janitors arrive and lure the maki into a transport cage, Huang said.
Police also arrested 30-year-old Cory McGilloway on Thursday, Lt. Scott Ryan of the San Francisco Police Department told reporters Friday.
McGilloway, who investigators identified as a suspect in the Maki’s abduction, was arrested Thursday night by San Rafael police on independent charges. He was expected to be taken to the San Francisco County Jail to be booked for burglary, animal theft, looting and vandalism related to lemur theft, Ryan said.
Police did not provide any further details and said the investigation was ongoing, but credited an inter-agency effort and tips for a public guidance line that led to the suspect’s arrest.
Tanya Peterson, director of the San Francisco Zoo, said Maki is “an aging wild animal that needs special care” to treat conditions like arthritis. “He’s still excited, dehydrated, and hungry,” she said, adding that veterinary teams were working to get him back to health. Because of his travels, she added, “He is socially distancing himself from his primate family,” but would hopefully soon join the other lemurs.
Authorities offered a $ 2,100 reward for finding maki that the zoo will give to the church.
“I understand there is a boy there who witnessed this and got the tip too, and we are giving his family a free membership to the zoo,” said Tanya Peterson, the zoo director, who is with the boy and everyone who works have helped, thanked. “You literally saved a life.”