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Teen Decides He Wants a Lemur for a Pet, Steals One from Zoo

It’s not unusual for zoo visitors to leave with a stuffed animal as a souvenir, but one Los Angeles teen decided he wanted something better than that, so he stole North America’s oldest-living ring-tailed lemur.

After committing almost three dozen burglaries in the last few years, it’s safe to say that 19-year-old Aquinas Kasbar was used to just taking things that didn’t belong to him. So when he laid eyes on Isaac, a 32-year-old endangered lemur at the Santa Ana Zoo last year and decided he wanted it for a pet, he knew exactly what he had to do. On July 27, 2018 Kasbar reportedly snuck into the zoo after hours and used bolt cutters to cut a hole in the enclosure for lemurs and Capuchin monkeys to get to his prize. Several animals escaped in the chaos, but the teen managed to capture and run away with Isaac.

Photo: DocChicago/Pixabay

Authorities said that Kasbar put the extremely endangered lemur in a plastic drawer that lacked proper ventilation and went home with it. Only the next day, the teen decided he didn’t really want to be a lemur owner so he took the plastic drawer and left it in front of a Newport Beach hotel with a note that read “Lemur (with tracker). This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police.”

Luckily, someone followed Kasbar’s instructions and Isaac was returned to the zoo safe and sound. Unfortunately CCTV footage of a hooded individual dropping off the plastic drawer containing the lemur next to the hotel front door was the only clue police lead police had to go on.

Back in May, what seemed like an unsolvable case got a lot easier after police received information about a Newport Beach teenager who had been bragging to his friends about committing the famous theft. He was known to police, and after verifying the information, Kasbar was brought in and admitted to taking Isaac because he wanted him as a pet.

 

Aquinas Kasbar pleaded guilty on Monday to unlawfully taking an endangered species, but unfortunately for him, he has been also been charged with a total of 34 other burglaries, including one in which he allegedly stole someone’s beloved pet.

“He took my little pet tortoise, a tortoise I’d had for 10 years,” one Claudia Schmutzler told The Los Angeles Times. “He takes whatever he wants like it’s his God-given right. He’s damn good at it and he’ll do it again.”

Kasbar has entered a plea deal and hopes for a lenient sentence, at least in the case of the stolen lemur.

“I would just emphasize that my client quickly regretted his action and took action that night to ensure that the lemur was returned safely to the zoo,” his defense lawyer said.

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