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Teen Jailed For Stealing Old Lemur And Abandoning Him At Hotel

by : Emily Brown on : 29 Oct 2019 12:37
Man sentenced to prison after stealing lemur from zooMan sentenced to prison after stealing lemur from zooOrange County District Attorney's Office/Santa Ana Zoo/Instagram

A teenager was fined and sentenced to 90 days in prison after stealing an old lemur from a zoo and abandoning him at a hotel. 

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Aquinas Kasbar, 19, used bolt cutters to cut a hole in the lemur enclosure at the Santa Ana Zoo in Orange County, California, in order to steal the animal, named Isaac.

At 33 years old, Isaac has exceeded the lemurs’ typical lifespan of 20-25 years and achieved the title of North America’s oldest ring-tailed lemur in captivity. The ring-tailed lemur is a Madagascar native and one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world.

Hear how Kasbar was caught here:

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According to court papers cited by the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the 19-year-old placed the lemur in a plastic drawer which lacked ventilation holes and took Isaac away from his home.

The following day, Kasbar abandoned Isaac in his plastic drawer in front of a Newport Beach hotel. The teen left a note on the container, which read: ‘This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police’.

Kasbar’s recklessness caused more trouble as the hole he had cut in the zoo’s enclosure allowed several lemurs and capuchin monkeys to escape.

Thankfully, Isaac was later taken back to the zoo unharmed and the other escapees were retrieved and also returned to their enclosure, however Kasbar’s actions resulted in a loss of about $8,486 (£6,600) for the zoo.

The break-in occurred after the zoo had closed for the night on July 27, 2018, and earlier this year Kasbar pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species.

His case was investigated by the FBI, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Newport Beach Police Department and the Santa Ana Police Department. On Monday, October 28, Kasbar was sentenced to 90 days in federal prison as well as being ordered to pay $8,486 in restitution to the Santa Ana Zoo.

Note left by man who stole lemur from zooNote left by man who stole lemur from zooSanta Ana Police Department
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According to NBC News, Kasbar’s attorney, Brian Gurwitz, commented on the teen’s actions earlier this year, saying Kasbar ‘quickly realised it was a bad decision, and he took steps that night to ensure that [the lemur] would be returned safely to the zoo.’

The lawyer added:

It was a poor youthful decision made by a high school student.

Mug Shot of man who stole lemur from zooMug Shot of man who stole lemur from zooOrange County District Attorney's Office

The LA Times report Kasbar is set to be sentenced in January for 29 felony and two misdemeanor counts related to a series of burglaries in Newport Beach which occurred between July 2017 and December 2018.

Kasbar pleaded guilty to all charges in September.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Animals, California, Orange County, zoo

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CBS2 and 3 others