Maki the ring-tailed lemur had quite the week when it was stolen from its home at the San Francisco Zoo and then spotted by a 5-year-old boy, who came to the endangered animal's rescue. The 21-year-old lemur is now safely back to its habitat, home with the other seven lemurs it lives with, NBC News reported.
On Oct. 14, police officers responded to a report regarding a burglary that occurred overnight at the zoo. When officers arrived on the scene they discovered forced entry to the Lipman Family Lemur Forest, the largest outdoor habitat for lemurs in the United States. Maki was nowhere to be found, officials said.
Maki was spotted by a 5-year-old boy, James Trihn, reported the Associated Press, who saw the missing animal outside his preschool last week, located in the neighboring town of Daly City, about five miles away from the zoo.
"There's a lemur! There's a lemur!" the boy said, Cynthia Huang, director of the Hope Lutheran Day School, told the San Francisco Chronicle Friday.
Huang told the newspaper that she was skeptical at first. “I thought, Are you sure it’s not a raccoon?” she said.
Maki scurried from the parking lot into the school’s playground and took refuge in a miniature play house, as the school called police, who quickly alerted animal control and zoo officials. The children, parents and teachers watched as caretakers arrived and coaxed the lemur into a transport cage, Huang said as told to the AP.
The boy's proud father, Sam Trihn wrote on his Twitter that his son, James, spotted the unusual creature, People Magazine reported. “My son saw Maki walking around the day care as he and my wife were leaving around 5 p.m.” said Trihn.
Dr. Jason Watters, the zoo’s executive vice president of animal behavior and wellness, told NCB News that Maki exceeded its median expectancy of 16.7 years, and out of the other lemurs, “is one of the slowest, and we believe, likely the easiest, to catch.”
He described lemurs as "adorable animals," but said Maki required special care.
San Francisco Zoo director Tanya Peterson said Maki was “an aging wild animal who needed special care” for ailments, including arthritis. “He’s still agitated, dehydrated and hungry,” she said, adding that veterinarian teams were working to get him back to health. Due to his travels, she added, “He’s socially distancing from his primate family” but would hopefully join the other lemurs soon, the AP reported.
Authorities had offered a $2,100 reward for locating Maki, which the zoo will be giving to the church, reported the news outlet.
“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,” said Peterson, who thanked the boy and everyone who helped, she told the AP. “They literally saved a life.”
Ring-tailed lemurs are native of Madagascar and considered to be endangered species. They are banned as pets in the state of California.
The SPFD Burglary Unit identified 30-year-old Cory McGilloway as the prime suspect in the burglary Thursday, officials said. He was arrested by the San Rafael Police Department on an unrelated matter. Upon release from San Rafael police custody, McGilloway was transported to the San Francisco County Jail where he will be booked on burglary, grand theft of an animal, looting and vandalism charges, according to officials.