Maki the elderly ring-tailed lemur from San Francisco Zoo has received his 15 minutes of fame — and every second of it was well deserved, although likely a bit stressful for the Madagascan mammal. His adventure began on Oct. 14, when zoo officials reported him missing from his enclosure and announced a $2,100 reward ($100 for every year of Maki’s life) for information to help find him.
“We are extremely concerned about Maki’s welfare,” Tanya M. Peterson, CEO and executive director of San Francisco Zoological Society told ABC News. “After a thorough investigation yesterday by SFPD, we feel a reward will hopefully help to generate some leads, as this is a precious life at stake.”
The zoo posted a tweet at @sfzoo thanking the public for support and announcing the reward.
Thank you for your supportive messages during this difficult time. At this time, we do not have any updates about Maki and we are very concerned. We’re offering a $2,100 reward, $100 for every year Maki has lived, for any information leading to his recovery. pic.twitter.com/L96OZiTCKj
— San Francisco Zoo (@sfzoo) October 15, 2020
Initially, it was believed that Maki escaped during a burglary at the zoo. But the San Francisco Police Department later confirmed that he had been stolen. They helped spread the word, putting out a press release asking for tips. They also tweeted out the word at @SFPD, saying “Maki is an endangered animal and requires specialized care.”
⚠️ Missing Lemur ⚠️#SanFrancisco we need your help in locating "Maki" the stolen Lemur! Maki is an endangered animal and requires specialized care. If spotted please dial 911 and be prepared to provide as much detail as possible ➡️ https://t.co/VJOkACtNwC pic.twitter.com/JEei6NjNgU
— San Francisco Police (@SFPD) October 14, 2020
Dr. Jason Watters, the executive vice president of animal behavior and wellness at the San Franciscan Zoo, said to ABC News that Maki’s capture may have been due to the lemur’s advanced age, saying that the 21-year old elder was “one of the slowest, and we believe, likely, the easiest to catch.”
There was a big development a couple of days later on Oct. 16, when 30-year-old Cory McGilloway was arrested on charges unrelated to the theft and named as a suspect in Maki’s disappearance. Then came an unexpected turn: on the same day McGilloway was taken into custody, Maki was spotted in a school parking lot by a five-year-old boy named James Trinh and his classmates. Police officers attended the scene, recaptured Maki and returned him safely to the zoo.
Journalist Justine Waldman posted footage of the lemur being spotted at a local church preschool’s parking lot.
— Justine Waldman (@JustineWaldman) October 18, 2020
Everyone who was concerned about Maki got a welcome Twitter update from the zoo on Friday. “Somewhat anxious and hungry, Maki appears to be in good health!”
Following the abduction of our beloved senior ring-tailed lemur, Maki, we received an outpouring of concern, which led to his return late Thursday evening! Somewhat anxious and hungry, Maki appears to be in good health! pic.twitter.com/zlgQR7sxeH
— San Francisco Zoo (@sfzoo) October 16, 2020
Our Maki's getting stronger every day and slowly getting reacquainted with his family! Stay tuned for our “Welcome Back, Maki, Day of Celebration!” pic.twitter.com/gXHFdU5Mhc
— San Francisco Zoo (@sfzoo) October 19, 2020
The reward money will go to Hope Lutheran Church in Daly City, California, which hosts the preschool. However, James and his family did receive a lifetime pass to the zoo.
Well done James, and welcome home, Maki!