Southern California

Man Who Stole Endangered Lemur from Santa Ana Zoo Sentenced to Federal Prison

The lemur was returned to the Santa Ana Zoo unharmed.

The man who stole Isaac, an endangered ring-tailed lemur, from the Santa Ana Zoo in July of 2018 was sentenced to three months in federal prison Monday.

Aquinas Kasbar, who was 19 at the time, admitted to breaking into the Santa Ana Zoo, where he cut a hole in a zoo enclosure for lemurs and snatched a then 32-year-old lemur named Isaac. At the time, Isaac was one of the oldest captive ring-tailed lemurs in North America.

After taking the lemur, Kasbar was said to have placed the animal in a plastic container and abandoned it at a Newport Beach Hotel.

"Those things in totality possibly could've caused the animal to die. Thankfully, it was returned to the zoo, and the lemur is still alive and doing well," said Farshid Hashempour Detective for the Santa Ana Police Department.

According to the Hashempur, Kasbar was arrested a few months later due to unrelated charges but later disclosed and bragged to a bail agent that he had stolen the lemur--going as far as showing the bail agent a video. 

Kasbar pleaded guilty to a federal crime a year later, and the lemur was returned to the Santa Ana Zoo unharmed.

The FBI emphasized that although the crime may seem small or harmless to some, it is actually a federal crime to steal an endangered animal.

As for Isaac, executive director for the Santa Ana Zoo, Ethan Fisher said: 

"Our vets looked at him and didn't see any issues. Some animals are more sensitive than other to disturbances, but fortunately, Isaac was okay."

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