A California teen who pleaded guilty to stealing an endangered lemur form a zoo has been sent to federal prison, officials said.
Aquinas Kasbar, 19, admitted to breaking into the Santa Ana Zoo in California and stealing Isaac, who at 32 years old was North America’s oldest ring-tailed lemur in captivity, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California said.
The teen said he snuck into the zoo after hours on July 27, 2018, and used “bolt cutters to cut a hole in the zoo’s enclosures for lemurs and capuchin monkeys, which enabled several of the animals to escape, though they were later recovered,” prosecutors said.
Kasbar intended to keep Isaac as a pet, he told authorities.
But after the incident, Kasbar left Isaac in a plastic box with no ventilation holes in front of a Newport Beach hotel, officials said.
“This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police,” a note left with the lemur said.
Isaac was later returned to the zoo unharmed and has since turned 33.
A lemur’s lifespan is typically between 20 and 25 years. The ring-tailed lemur, native to Madagascar, is considered one of the 25 most-endangered primates, in part because of the illegal pet trade, authorities said.
On July 8, Kasbar pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species.
He was sentenced to 90 days in prison and ordered to pay $8,486 in restitution to the Santa Ana Zoo.