A California man has agreed to plead guilty to theft after he admitted taking a critically endangered ring-tailed lemur from the Santa Ana Zoo, according to a Department of Justice news release.
Aquinas Kasbar, 19, broke into the zoo and used bolt cutters to access the lemur encampment and steal Isaac, the oldest ring-tailed lemur in US captivity.
Isaac is 32 years old according to the release. The life span of a lemur typically is 20 to 25 years. Ring-tailed lemurs are on a list of the 25 most endangered primates and are under threat partly because of the illegal pet trade, according to the plea agreement.
Kasbar took Isaac in July last year and kept him in a Newport Beach hotel drawer with no ventilation before abandoning the lemur with a note that read: “Lemur (with tracker)” and “This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police,” the release states.
Kasbar faces up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for one misdemeanour count of unlawfully taking an endangered species. The theft cost the the Santa Ana Zoo more than $8,000, court documents state.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Newport Beach Police Department, and the Santa Ana Police Department are investigated the case, and Kasbar’s initial court appearance is scheduled next week.