5-year-old Helps Solve Mystery of San Francisco Zoo’s Missing Lemur
No detective is too young to help crack the case.
A five-year-old in San Francisco helped authorities solve the mystery of a stolen lemur last week when he spotted the animal hanging out at his playground.
Maki, an arthritic 21-year-old lemur, was reported missing from the San Francisco Zoo earlier this month after caretakers noticed signs of forced entry at the animal’s enclosure.
Last week, five-year-old James Trinh was leaving his preschool in Daly City, about five miles from the zoo, when he exclaimed, “There’s a lemur! There’s a lemur!” in the school parking lot.
However, the director of the school, Cynthia Huang, was skeptical at first.
“We’ve had coyotes, skunks, raccoons,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I thought, ‘Are you sure it’s not a raccoon?’”
But it became clear that the animal was most definitely not a raccoon. She called police, who alerted animal control and zoo officials about the location of the missing lemur. Caretakers from the zoo arrived, coaxed Maki into a cage, and then transported him back home to the zoo, about one day after he was reported missing.
San Francisco Zoo director Tanya Peterson told The Associated Press that Maki was “an aging wild animal who needed special care” for various ailments, including arthritis. He returned to the zoo “still agitated, dehydrated and hungry.” Due to his disappearance from the zoo, he is still “socially distancing from his primate family” but will return to his enclosure after receiving more veterinarian care.
Five-year-old Trinh received a free lifetime membership to the San Francisco Zoo for his role in returning the lemur to his home. His preschool, which is located at a church, will receive the $2,100 reward for locating Maki.
The man identified as the lemur-napper was arrested by San Rafael police on unrelated charges. He was transferred to the San Francisco County Jail and charged with burglary, grand theft of an animal, looting, and vandalism.
Maki's kidnapping made national news and was even a topic on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" sketch.