He Stole a Famous Lemur, Will Go to Prison for It

Aquinas Kasbar, now 19, allegedly wanted to keep Isaac as a pet
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2019 9:05 AM CDT
He Took a Lemur From a Zoo, Will Go to Prison for It
This undated file booking photo, provided by the Orange County District Attorney's Office, shows Aquinas Kasbar, 19, of Newport Beach, Calif. Kasbar, who admitted stealing a ring-tailed lemur from a Southern California zoo, was sentenced to three months in federal prison Monday, Oct. 28, 2019.   (Orange County District Attorney's Office via AP, File)

A 33-year-old ring-tailed lemur named Isaac is believed to be the oldest of his kind in captivity in North America. That he made it to 33 was lucky: On July 27, 2018, the then-32-year-old was stolen from California's Santa Ana Zoo. The teen who took him has now been sentenced to 3 months in federal prison for the crime. Aquinas Kasbar, now 19, allegedly used bolt cutters to create a hole in the chain-link fence around the enclosure that held Isaac. NBC News reports Kasbar's lawyer characterized it as a "a poor youthful decision made by a high school student"—and one Kasbar quickly realized wasn't so hot. As such, "he took steps that night to ensure that it would be returned safely to the zoo." The Washington Post previously reported Isaac was left in a plastic container outside the front door of a Marriott that same evening.

Workers found the animal around 2am, along with two notes: "This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo," read one. "Please bring it to police." A second read: "Lemur (with tracker)," an apparent reference to Isaac's microchip. Though the AP reports the container wasn't ventilated, the lemur was unharmed. Kasbar allegedly wanted to keep Isaac as a pet rather than sell him, but it was pawned items—among them a stolen $4,500 diamond ring—that led police to Kasbar, a storage unit containing Birkin bags and Fender guitars, and evidence tying him to the lemur theft. He pleaded guilty on July 8 to a misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species; CNN notes the species is one of the top 25 endangered primates. He faces up to 15 years and four months for the burglaries, which he also pleaded guilty to, and will be sentenced in January. (More lemur stories.)

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