SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Police said Friday they have arrested a man suspected of stealing a ring with a lemur’s tail from a San Francisco zoo, where officers rewarded a 5-year-old boy who helped capture the endangered primate for life.
The theft of Mackie, an arthritic 21-year-old lemur, broke the news Wednesday in San Francisco and beyond when zoo officials reported the missing animal and found evidence of forcible entry into its enclosure.
Five-year-old James Trin did not know the headlines when he left his preschool on Thursday in Daily City, about 8 km from the zoo, and exclaimed: “There is a lemur! There is a lemur! Cynthia Huang, director of the Lutheran day school Nadezhda, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday.
At first, Huang was skeptical. “I thought, are you sure it’s not a raccoon?” she said.
Mackie slipped out of the parking lot of the school’s playground and took shelter in a miniature playhouse as the school called police, who quickly alerted animal control officers and the zoo. Children, parents and teachers watched as arriving guards forced a lemur into a transport cage, Huang said.
Police also took 30-year-old Corey McGilloway into custody on Thursday, San Francisco Police Lt. Col. Scott Ryan told reporters on Friday.
McGilloway, who was identified by investigators as a suspect in the lemur abduction, was arrested Thursday night by San Rafael police on unrelated charges. He was expected to be transferred to the San Francisco County Jail to be booked on charges of burglary, animal theft, robbery and vandalism, all related to lemur theft, Ryan said.
Police did not provide further details, saying the investigation is still ongoing, but credited the efforts of several agencies and advice on a public line that led to the arrest of the suspect.
San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson said Mackie was “an aging wild animal that needs special care” for diseases, including arthritis. “He is still excited, dehydrated and hungry,” she said, adding that veterinary teams are working to get him back to health. Because of his travels, she added, “He is socially distancing himself from his primate family,” but we hope to join the other lemurs soon.
Authorities have offered a $ 2,100 reward for finding Mackie, which the zoo will give to the church.
“I understand that there is a young boy who witnessed this and also called the tip, and we are giving his family a free membership to the zoo,” said Tanya Peterson, director of the zoo, who thanked the boy and everyone who helped. “They literally saved lives.”