Aquinas Kasbar, Newport Beach, California teen, admits to stealing a rare species lemur from Santa Ana Zoo. Faces one year jail and $100K fine.
Maybe it wasn’t going to make a good pet after all? A Newport Beach, California teen has pled guilty to stealing a rare lemur from a zoo last year.
Aquinas Kasbar, 19, in a plea deal agreement admitted to stealing Isaac — a 32-year-old ring-tailed lemur — from the Santa Ana Zoo last July, according to the Department of Justice.
On the night of the animal’s abduction, Kasbar snuck into the zoo after hours and used a bolt cutter to create an opening in the lemur’s enclosure.
In the process, Capuchin monkeys escaped from the same cage and had to be recovered by zoo staffers, the DOJ stated in a press release.
The kidnapped lemur— the oldest of its species in North American captivity — was recovered after Kasbar dropped the animal off in a plastic drawer near a Newport Beach hotel.
Attached to the container was a note that read: ‘This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police,’ according to prosecutors.
Newport Beach police investigators found evidence identifying Kasbar as the culprit while investigating a string of burglaries he was charged with last year. He was arrested in December 2018 for those burglaries, which took place over several months and resulted in thefts of several hundred thousands dollars in property.
The latest robbery led to Kasbar being charged with unlawfully taking an endangered species- with the teen now facing a year in prison along with a $100,000 fine.
Speaking with the OCRegister, Ethan Fisher, the Santa Ana Zoo’s manager said Isaac was unharmed. As a 32-year-old, Isaac is much older than other lemurs who typically live 20 to 25 years, Fisher explained. Lemurs are endangered, in part, because of the illegal pet trade
‘He’s doing well,’ Fisher reiterated. ‘It’s nice to have some closure to this.’
The alleged lemur looter’s scheduled court date is May 28.
His actions cost Santa Ana Zoo roughly $8,486, according to court papers.
Scientific American reported in 2017 that only 2,000 ring-tailed lemurs remain in their native Madagascar — a 95% decrease in population since 2000.