"Maki", the San Francisco Zoo's ring-tailed lemur that captured the hearts of the Bay Area and beyond when he was kidnapped in 2020 from his zoo enclosure and later recovered, has died at the age of 22, according to a zoo spokesperson Friday afternoon.
Maki died Thursday, zoo spokesperson Nancy Chan said.
"The fact that Maki survived his ordeal to thrive among his group for more than a year and a half is truly remarkable," said Tanya M. Peterson, chief executive officer and executive director of the San Francisco Zoological Society. "Maki became a symbol of resilience and bravery, becoming a fan favorite. His story increased awareness of endangered lemurs worldwide. We are heartbroken for this loss."
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At 22, Maki lived to be one of the zoo's oldest lemurs, exceeding the median life expectancy of 16.7 years. Veterinary and animal care staff recently diagnosed acute kidney disease, along with advanced age. Both factors contributed to his death, zoo officials said.
On Oct. 13, 2020, a trespasser broke through a locked door leading to the indoor enclosure of the Lipman Family Lemur Forest, taking the old, slow-moving lemur. Zoo officials said Maki required a specialized diet due to his age and condition. Maki was discovered missing that morning.
Through the work of the San Francisco Police Department and its investigative unit, they responded to a tip less than 36 hours later from a witness who spotted Maki in a playground in Daly City. The five-year-old boy, James Trinh, recognized Maki as a lemur and alerted others. Both Maki and young James Trinh were honored in a ceremony that year on World Lemur Day by San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
A suspect was arrested and charged with violating the Endangered Species Act.
"Thanks to the news media, an enormous amount of social media and a young boy's keen eye, Maki was returned home safely," Peterson said.
"His personality filled the forest," Lori Komejan, Maki's longtime caretaker, said of him. "He will be forever missed."