A 21-year-old ring-tailed lemur was stolen out of his enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo, the SFPD has confirmed. And as of Thursday he was found alive at a Daly City playground.
Maki, the lemur, went missing from the Lipman Family Lemur Forest habitat on Tuesday, and police said Wednesday that there was evidence of forced entry into the enclosure, and that the animal was likely stolen. The incident is being investigated as a burglary.
SFist first reported on the lemur's disappearance on Wednesday.
"We are extremely concerned about Maki’s welfare," said Tanya M. Peterson, CEO and Executive Director of San Francisco Zoological Society, speaking to KRON4. "After a thorough investigation yesterday by SFPD, we feel a reward will hopefully help to generate some leads, as this is a precious life at stake."
If Maki was stolen in order to be made into a personal pet, this would be illegal in California, and zoo officials are concerned that Maki won't receive the necessary care that he does at the zoo.
"We understand that lemurs are adorable animals," says Dr. Jason Watters, Executive Vice President of Animal Behavior and Wellness at the zoo, speaking to ABC 7. "But Maki is a highly endangered animal that requires special care. We are asking the public for help in his return."
As the Chronicle reports, Maki also may have been stolen in order to sell him on the black market. Ken White, the president of the Peninsula Humane Society, tells the paper that the international black market for endangered species and their parts is extremely lucrative — and punishments for those caught trafficking in the animals are often relatively light.
As the National Zoo explains, lemurs are among the most endangered mammal groups in the world. Ring-tailed lemurs are native to southeastern Madagascar, and unlike other lemur cousins they spend about 40 percent of their time on the ground. They typically eat leaves, fruits, and insects.
Maki is a relatively old lemur at 21, with the median life expectancy of these cute little creatures being around 16 years.
Update: Maki was found! It's unclear who, if anyone, gets the reward.
The SF Zoo was offering a $2,100 reward for tips that lead to his return — $100 for each year of his life.
Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call the SFPD’s 24-hour tip line at (415) 575-444, or to text a tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the beginning of the message.