San Francisco Zoo ring-tailed lemur kidnapped in 2020 dies at 22

SAN FRANCISCO – A San Francisco Zoo & Gardens ring-tailed lemur that made headlines when he was kidnapped and recovered a year and a half ago has died at the age of 22, zoo officials announced Friday.

“Maki” was one of the zoo’s oldest lemurs, exceeding the median life expectancy of 16.7 years, the zoo said in a news release. He was recently diagnosed with acute kidney disease, which together with his advanced age contributed to his death Thursday, officials said.

On Oct. 13, 2020, Maki was nabbed from the Lipman Family Lemur Forest enclosure. Zoo officials said he was old, slow-moving and required a specialized diet.

The San Francisco Police Department recovered Maki less than 36 hours later when 5-year-old James Trinh spotted him at a playground in Daly City. San Francisco Mayor London Breed honored James and Maki in a ceremony that year on World Lemur Day.

“The fact that Maki survived his ordeal to thrive among his group for more than a year and a half is truly remarkable,” San Francisco Zoological Society CEO and Executive Director Tanya M. Peterson said in a statement.

“Maki became a symbol of resilience and bravery, becoming a fan favorite,” she continued. “His story increased awareness of endangered lemurs worldwide. We are heartbroken for this loss.”

On the same day Maki was found, a 30-year-old man was arrested in connection with his abduction. Zoo officials said he was charged with violating the Endangered Species Act.

While the kidnapping incident elevated Maki’s status as one of the zoo’s more popular animals, he was also one of the few lemurs that moved into the largest outdoor mixed lemur habitat in the country when it opened in 2002, according to the zoo.

Maki’s long-time caretaker, Lori Komejan, said Maki’s favorite food was purple grapes – he did not care for green grapes.

Maki also trusted his caretakers like no other lemur; As the lowest-ranking member of his ring-tailed lemur group, he often chose to eat next to his caretakers rather than his group.

“His personality filled the forest, and he will be missed forever,” Komejan said in a statement.

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