Maki, a ring-tailed lemur stolen from its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo, was found Thursday in Daly City, police said.
Daly City police said they received a call around 5 p.m. reporting the lemur was in a parking lot, then the playground area of the preschool at the Hope Lutheran Church. Officers responded to the area after a child initially saw the animal. Police contained him until zoo staff were able to retrieve the lemur.
Parent Chris Lee was in the parking lot to pick up his daughter from preschool when he heard one of the kids yell “lemur,” and he immediately knew it was the one that was missing.
Maki was first spotted by one of the kids in front of Lee’s car, apparently eating from a bush.
“I was not anticipating he would show up at a school, but when you think about it, Daly City and the San Francisco Zoo are pretty close,” Lee said.
Lee said that Maki, an older lemur, was moving slowly. He wasn’t aggressive and didn’t seem to feel threatened. Lee and other parents called 911 and animal control.
“That’s when I called and said, ‘hey we found your lemur,’” said Lee.
Earlier in the day, the San Francisco Zoo officials offered a $2,100 reward for information leading to the recovery of Maki. The 21-year-old male lemur was discovered missing shortly before the zoo opened to visitors on Wednesday.
Police investigators found evidence of a forced entry to the lemur enclosure and processed the scene for evidence.
"We are aware that there is a black market for wild animals and so that’s an avenue that we’re looking into," SFPD Officer Robert Rueca said. "We know that people find these lemurs cute so it’s possible that someone stole this animal to keep it as a personal pet."
The zoo said Maki is well over his life expectancy and easier to catch because he is the slowest of all the lemurs they have, adding he is an endangered animal that requires specialized care.
Maki was born at the zoo in 1999 and has an offspring in the enclosure, zoo spokeswoman Nancy Chan said.
The outdoor lemur habitat, considered the largest of its kind in the country, houses seven different lemur species native to Madagascar, according to the zoo’s website.
“Guests can see the lemurs from several vantage points: from across a surrounding pond, looking eye to eye at lemurs in the trees or gazing down below from an elevated boardwalk,” the website says.