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Teen sentenced to three months in prison for stealing lemur from California zoo

Climate change threatens Madagascar's lemurs

A California teenager was sentenced Monday to three months in federal prison for breaking into a zoo and stealing an endangered lemur, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. The animal, named Isaac, is the oldest ring-tailed lemur in captivity in North America.

Aquinas Kasbar broke into the Santa Ana Zoo on July 27, 2018, after the attraction had closed for the day. The 19-year-old then cut a hole in the lemur and capuchin monkey enclosures with bolt cutters, allowing a few of the primates to escape. The animals were later recovered, according to the release.

During his jaunt in the zoo, Kasbar stole the now 33-year-old Isaac and put him in a plastic container without proper ventilation holes, according to the release.

While the release said he initially swiped the endangered animal to keep him as a pet, he appeared to have changed his mind — abandoning him in front of a hotel in Newport Beach, California, the next day.

The lemur was left in the same plastic container with two notes attached. One read, "Lemur (with tracker)" and the other said, "This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police," according to court documents cited in the release.

Isaac was returned unharmed — although Kasbar's actions resulted in a loss of about $8,486 for the zoo. Ring-tailed lemurs are an endangered species, in part due to the illegal pet trade, according to court documents cited in the release.

Kasbar pleaded guilty on July 8 to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species, according to the release. In addition to his 90-day prison sentence, the teen also was ordered to pay $8,486 in restitution to the zoo.

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