A Southern California man has been sentenced to 90 days for stealing North America’s oldest ring-tailed lemur in captivity from a zoo.
Aquinas Kasbar, 19, of Newport Beach, was also ordered to pay $8,486 in restitution to the Santa Ana Zoo in Orange County for the July 27, 2018, break-in, which occurred after the zoo had closed for the night, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California said Monday in a statement.
Kasbar was accused of using bolt cutters to cut a hole in the enclosure and taking the lemur, named Isaac, who was 32 years old at the time.
The next day, the animal was left in a plastic container outside a Newport Beach hotel, with notes saying that it belongs to the zoo and to contact police, prosecutors said.
The lemur was unharmed and returned to the zoo.
The hole cut into the enclosure for lemurs and capuchin monkeys allowed several other animals to escape, but they were all recaptured, prosecutors said.
Kasbar pleaded guilty on July 8 to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species.
His attorney, Brian Gurwitz, said in May that Kasbar "quickly realized it was a bad decision, and he took steps that night to ensure that it would be returned safely to the zoo."
He called it "a poor youthful decision made by a high school student."
Ring-tailed lemurs are considered endangered, in part because of the illegal pet trade, but Kasbar intended to keep the animal as a pet, prosecutors said. Isaac has since turned 33 years old, and a lemur's lifespan typically is between 20 years and 25 years, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Kasbar has also been charged in a slew of residential burglaries in the Newport Beach area.
He has pleaded guilty to all 33 counts in that state case, his defense attorney noted in a filing before he was sentenced in the lemur theft.
His sentencing in the burglaries is scheduled for Jan. 10, and a judge has agreed that the sentence will be no more than 15 years and four months, according to the filing.
Newport Beach police have said that in the months-long series of burglaries that the estimated value of stolen items was "in the several hundred thousands of dollars,” and some of the goods were found in a storage unit.