Lemur (Courtesy SF Zoo)

Zoo officials honor boy who found stolen lemur

In the spirit of World Lemur Day, San Francisco city officials and the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens on Friday celebrated the 5-year-old boy who helped locate Maki, the lemur that was taken from the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens earlier this month.

During an event at the zoo, Mayor London Breed, Sen. Scott Weiner and zoo officials presented the boy, James Trinh, and his family with an honorary zoo membership.

“We are so glad that Maki is back and it is amazing how much the community rallied around making sure that Maki was found,” Breed said. We want to make sure that what happened to Maki doesn’t happen to other lemurs here. Thank you so much, James, what you did took a lot of courage.”

“James, you really were heroic, so thank you,” Wiener said.

According to police, on Oct. 14, a suspect forced entry into the zoo and removed Maki from his habitat, the Lipman Family Lemur Forest — the largest outdoor lemur habitat in North America. Zoo officials pleaded with the public to help find Maki, as he’s an endangered ring-tailed lemur that requires special care.

Amid a citywide search for Maki, James spotted him two days later at Hope Lutheran Day School in Daly City. With the assistance from San Francisco Animal Care and Control, officers were able to return Maki to the zoo.

Tanya Peterson, the zoo’s president and chief executive officer, said since being returned, Maki is back in his habitat and in good condition.

During the event, Peterson and Larry Lipman, lead donor to the lemur habitat, said lemurs and other animals in Madagascar remain vulnerable to extinction within our lifetime because of deforestation. To help increase awareness, the pair announced the zoo is working on opening a Madagascar center, possibly as early as next summer.

“This is so important because when we look at what’s happening in Madagascar, and frankly in the Amazon and other parts of the world, as we are allowing massive deforestation which is debilitating so many ecosystems and then on top of climate change, it is going to become exponentially more destructive and it’s a reminder that we only have one planet and we need to take care of it,” Wiener said.

Since Maki was located, police have identified a suspect in connection with his disappearance. Cory McGilloway, 30, was taken into custody by police in San Rafael in connection with a separate investigation in which he is suspected of shoplifting and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, among other offenses. McGilloway remains in custody in Marin County, according to jail records, and police said once he is released from jail, he will be taken to a San Francisco jail where he will be arrested on suspicion of burglary, grand theft of an animal, vandalism and looting.

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