Maki, Ring-Tailed Lemur Stolen From San Francisco Zoo, Dead at 22

Maki the Lemur sitting in a tree
Facebook | San Francisco Zoo & Garden

Maki, who made headlines in 2020 after being stolen and then found by a 5-year-old, died this past week.

Maki, the ring-tailed lemur who was stolen from the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens and later returned after being found by a child in 2020, died on Thursday, the zoo said.  

The average of a ring-tailed lemur is right under 17 years, and at 22 Maki was one of the oldest at the zoo. 

"We are heartbroken to share the passing of beloved ring-tailed lemur, Maki. At 22, Maki was one of the oldest lemurs here at #SFZoo and one of the original lemurs who moved into Lemur Forest when it opened in 2002," the California zoo wrote on Facebook.

Maki suffered from acute kidney failure, which, combined with his old age, led to his death, the zoo told People.

"The fact that Maki survived his ordeal to thrive among his group for more than a year and a half is truly remarkable," Tanya M. Peterson, the CEO and executive director of the San Francisco Zoological Society, said in a statement.

The zoo noted in its post on Facebook that "Maki captured the hearts of the public after he was kidnapped and recovered in October 2020. He is a symbol of resilience, and we are so thankful that he was able to thrive with his group upon his safe return."

In 2020, the lemur was stolen by someone who broke into the zoo, but was returned after being spotted by then 5-year-old James Trinh at a nearby school.

"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 at the time.

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. 

“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 told the Associated Press at the time. “They literally saved a life.”

Maki helped increase awareness of endangered lemurs and made a "wonderful ambassador for his wild counterparts," the zoo wrote in their memorial.

"His favorite food was purple grapes – he did not care for green grapes," the zoo wrote. "He trusted his caretakers like no other lemur and as the lowest ranking of his ring-tailed lemur group, he often chose to eat next to them rather than his group. His personality filled the forest, and he will be forever missed!"

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