Every week in 2020 has felt like a horrible involuntary adventure, but Maki the ring-tailed lemur’s experience being lemur-napped from the San Francisco Zoo, becoming the subject of a citywide missing primate initiative, escaping from his captors, and finally seeking refuse at a church before being returned to the zoo “agitated, dehydrated and hungry” sounds like hell for anyone.
Maki, who at 21 years of age is a lemur elder at the San Francisco Zoo, began his crappy week when zoo authorities reported him missing and possibly kidnapped after a burglary attempt in their primate enclosure. The San Francisco Police Department put out an alert for citizens to keep an eye out for Maki and later confirmed that he had, in fact, been stolen instead of having simply escaped during the burglary.
The Executive Vice President of Animal Behavior and Wellness at the SF Zoo said in a statement 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” in a statement to ABC News.
In one of this story’s odder twists, the primary suspect in Maki’s kidnapping is Cory McGilloway, a 30-year-old who was arrested two days later on charges unrelated to the theft and will now face more charges including burglary, vandalism, and grand theft of an animal on top of whatever else he was arrested for.
At some point between the break-in at the zoo and McGilloway’s arrest, Maki either escaped or McGilloway released him, as a sharp eyed five-year-old student at the Hope Lutheran Day School spotted Maki in the parking lot the same day police took the suspect into custody.
The five-year old and his classmates watched as Maki took up temporary residence on the church’s school playground and was eventually recaptured by police, who returned the lemur to the zoo.
Zoo director Tanya Peterson told the AP that Maki would have to be nursed back to health after his harrowing ordeal, describing his medical seclusion as “socially distancing from his primate family.” The San Francisco Zoo hopes Maki will make a full recovery, which would be a nice bit of news for a lemur who has clearly seen things no lemur was meant to see.
Between the saved lemur and the cute kid who found him, this is 2020 serving up a rare example of good news. And of course, Maki’s sudden celebrity also made him the subject of a parody Twitter account.