"Maki became a symbol of resilience and bravery... His story increased awareness of endangered lemurs worldwide"
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- "Maki," the ring-tailed lemur who captured the hearts of the public after he was kidnapped and recovered in October 2020, has died, the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens officials said in a statement Friday.
They say he passed away yesterday, March 3.
The video used in this post is from a previous report.
"The fact that Maki survived his ordeal to thrive among his group for more than a year and a half is truly remarkable," said Tanya M. Peterson, CEO and Executive Director of San Francisco Zoological Society. "Maki became a symbol of resilience and bravery, becoming a fan favorite. His story increased awareness of endangered lemurs worldwide. We are heartbroken for this loss."
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One of the zoo's oldest lemurs, Maki lived to the age 22. For context, the average life expectancy for lemurs is 16.7 years.
"Veterinary and animal care staff recently diagnosed acute kidney disease that along with advanced age contributed to his passing," the zoo said in a statement.
On October 13, 2020, when a trespasser broke into the enclosure of the Lipman Family Lemur Forest, and took Maki.
At his old age, he was slow-moving and required a specialized diet.
Less than 36 hours later, San Francisco police responded to a tip from a witness who spotted Maki in a playground in Daly City. The five-year-old boy, James Trinh, recognized Maki as a lemur and alerted others. Both Maki and young James Trinh were honored in a ceremony that year on World Lemur Day by Mayor London Breed.
A suspect was arrested and charged with violating the Endangered Species Act.
"Thanks to the news media, an enormous amount of social media and a young boy's keen eye, Maki was returned home safely," said Peterson.
The zoo says, "Though Maki will be remembered by this incident, he was one of the few lemurs today that moved into the largest outdoor mixed lemur habitat in the country when it opened in 2002."
According to Lori Komejan, his long-time caretaker, his favorite food was purple grapes - he did not care for green grapes. She says Maki was the lowest-ranking of his ring-tailed lemur group, and because of that often would eat next to his caretakers instead of with his group.
"He trusted his caretakers like no other lemur... His personality filled the forest, and he will be forever missed," said Komejan.