Officials rewarded a 5-year-old boy who helped in finding the stolen ring-tailed lemur from the San Francisco Zoo, leading to the police arresting a man.
Maki, an arthritic 21-year-old lemur, made the news in San Francisco on Wednesday when zoo officials reported the animal missing, with them finding signs that the endangered animal may have been stolen.
James Trinh was not aware of theft when he left his preschool on Thursday, and found Maki about 5 miles from the zoo, and shouted, “There’s a lemur! There’s a lemur!”
Cynthia Huang, director of the Hope Lutheran Day School, was skeptical at first and said, “Are you sure it’s not a raccoon?”
The school quickly called the police, who then alerted animal control and zoo officials, as Maki dashed into the school’s playground and hid in a miniature playhouse.
The children, parents and teachers watched as authorities arrived and captured the lemur and coaxed into a transport cage.
On the same day, San Rafael Police took 30-year-old Cory McGilloway into custody, on unrelated charges, but investigators suspected him as Maki’s abductor.
According to San Francisco Police Lt. Scott Ryan, McGilloway is expected to be transferred to San Francisco County Jail and will be booked on charges of burglary, grand theft of an animal, looting and vandalism all related to the lemur theft.
Ryan did not provide further details pertaining to the theft, but assured that the investigation is underway.
He also gave credit to the multi-agency effort and tips on a public tip line that led to the suspect’s capture.
Tanya Peterson, director of the San Francisco Zoo, said Maki was “an aging wild animal who needed special care.”
“He’s still agitated, dehydrated and hungry,” she added, and assured that veterinarian teams were working to get him back to health.
“He’s socially distancing from his primate family,” said Peterson, explaining that the move is due to Maki’s recent “travels”.
“I understand there is a young boy there who witnessed this and also called in the tip, and we are giving his family a free membership to the zoo,” Peterson said, thanking James and everyone who helped.
“They literally saved a life.”