San Francisco Zoo officials announce reward in locating missing lemur; police investigating possible break-in

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Thursday, October 15, 2020
SF Zoo reports missing lemur after possible burglary
The San Francisco Zoo announced Wednesday that one of its ring-tailed lemurs is missing. SFPD is helping the zoo to locate Maki and is investigating a possible break-in.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Zoo officials announced a $2,100 reward offer for information to help find Maki, an older lemur which was reported missing from its enclosure Wednesday.

"We are extremely concerned about Maki's welfare," said Tanya M. Peterson, CEO and Executive Director of San Francisco Zoological Society. "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."

The reward of $2,100 is equivalent to $100 for every year of Maki's life. Tipsters should contact SFPD's 24-Hour Tip Line at 415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.

The San Francisco Zoo announced Wednesday that one of its ring-tailed lemurs is missing. San Francisco Police spent the day collecting evidence at the zoo, and say they are investigating the incident as a burglary.

"I just couldn't believe it. Why would anyone want a lemur," asked former San Francisco Zoo board member, Barry Lipman.

It's a question a lot of people are asking, after Maki - a male ring-tailed lemur - disappeared from the zoo.

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"I was out there yesterday and everything seemed perfectly normal," said Lipman, who provides funding for the Lipman Family Lemur Forest, where Maki lives with 18 other lemurs.

"They're incredibly rare animals, they're endangered, they're not easy to take care of," explained Lipman.

Zoo officials say Maki was last seen in his enclosure Tuesday night, but that by Wednesday morning, he was missing. They say the San Francisco Police Department is assisting them in looking for Maki, including investigating a break-in at the Lipman Family Lemur Forest habitat.

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In June, two wallaroos and a kangaroo were found dead inside their exhibit. San Francisco zoo officials suspected a mountain lion in that incident. This time, SFPD suspects a human is to blame.

"We found evidence of forced entry, meaning there was damage to the enclosure," said SFPD Officer, Robert Rueca.

Maki was born at the San Francisco Zoo. At 21 years, he's older and slower than the other primates, which why zoo officials think someone was able to catch him.

Twenty years ago, two teenagers were charged with breaking into the zoo and stealing two koalas. The animals were found in a San Francisco home, after police received an anonymous tip.

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"We're reaching out to the public again, to see if they spot Maki out on the street and to help us bring him back to the zoo," said Rueca, who said SFPD is canvassing the area for surveillance video.

Police are looking into all possible motives for taking the animal, including whether someone might want to sell Maki, or keep him as a pet, which is illegal in California.

"We understand that lemurs are adorable animals, but Maki is a highly endangered animal that requires special care. We are asking the public for help in his return," said Dr. Jason Watters, Executive Vice President of Animal Behavior and Wellness. "As one of our oldest lemurs, Maki requires a specialized diet. Of the 19 lemurs here, at 21.5 years, he has exceeded median life expectancy of 16.7 years, but is also one of the slowest, and we believe, likely, the easiest to catch."

According to zoo officials, the Lipman Family Lemur Forest is the largest outdoor lemur habitat in North America.

If anyone has information, please call SFPD's 24 Hour Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.