A California man has been charged with violating the Endangered Species Act after he allegedly broke into the San Francisco Zoo last year and stole a rare ring-tailed lemur.
A 21-year-old male ring-tailed lemur named Maki was missing from the zoo in October 2020 after officials responded to a report of a burglary and found evidence of forced entry. Maki was found and rescued two days later in Daly City, about five miles from the zoo.
Cory John McGilloway, 31, who was arrested on the day of Maki's recovery, made his first appearance in federal court Monday and was charged with one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act, a federal offense. If convicted, McGilloway could face up to one year in prison and $50,000 in fines.
Prosecutors say McGilloway, of Los Angeles, broke into the zoo and kidnapped Maki from the Lipman Family Lemur Forest on Oct. 13. They also believe video that a woman recorded of a man walking a lemur on nearby Treasure Island is McGilloway with Maki.
When found, Maki who was described by zoo officials as a "highly endangered animal," was hungry and dehydrated, according to prosecutors.
Ring-tailed lemurs, which are only found on the African island of Madagascar, are illegal to own in California. Only 11 states allow people to own nonhuman primates as pets without a permit, according to Born Free USA. They are also listed as an endangered species with a population continuously decreasing, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Man accused of stealing San Francisco Zoo lemur faces federal charges