Aquinas Kasbar broke into the Santa Ana Zoo in California in July 2018

By Helen Murphy
October 29, 2019 09:44 AM
Credit: Santa Ana Zoo

A 19-year-old who pleaded guilty to stealing an endangered lemur from a California zoo has been sentenced to three months in federal prison.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, Aquinas Kasbar of Newport Beach, California, was sentenced to 90 days in prison and ordered to pay $8,486 in restitution to the zoo.

Last year, Kasbar broke into California’s Santa Ana Zoo and stole a lemur named Isaac in order to keep him as a pet, the release said. On July 8, the teen pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species.

According to the press release, Isaac is North America’s oldest ring-tailed lemur in captivity. The animal was 32 years old at the time he was stolen, but turned 33 this July.

In his plea agreement, Kasbar admitted to sneaking into the zoo after hours on July 27, 2018, and to using “bolt cutters to cut a hole in the zoo’s enclosures for lemurs and capuchin monkeys, which enabled several of the animals to escape, though they were later recovered.”

The day after the heist, Kasbar left Isaac in a plastic box with no ventilation holes in front of a Newport Beach hotel with a note that said the lemur belonged to the Santa Ana Zoo, states the release. Isaac was later returned to the zoo unharmed.

“This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police,” the note said.

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According to the press release, a lemur’s lifespan is normally between 20 and 25 years. The ring-tailed lemur, native to Madagascar, is on a list of the 25 most endangered primates, partly because of the illegal pet trade, the press release said.