Lemur thief brags to bail agent, and now he’s the one going to the pen, FBI says

The man who stole an endangered lemur from a California zoo had hoped to take a monkey instead, according to the FBI.

But the monkeys at the Santa Ana Zoo weren’t cooperating, so 19-year-old Aquina Kasbar reportedly made off with Isaac the ring-tailed lemur.

Isaac’s adventure didn’t last long, though. Someone dropped him off in a plastic tub in front of a hotel hours later with a note to call the police, the FBI said.

A couple months after the zoo heist in July 2018, Kasbar “was arrested on unrelated charges and bragged to his bail agent that he’d stolen a lemur from the zoo,” according to investigators.

“He even showed the bail agent a video on his phone of himself with the lemur,” the FBI said.

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Isaac the lemur “seemed pretty unfazed by the adventure,” the Santa Ana Zoo said after the theft. FBI/Santa Ana Zoo

Kasbar was sentenced last week to 90 days in federal prison for the caper, according to the Department of Justice. He pleaded guilty in July.

Isaac was 32 at the time, , making him the oldest ring-tailed lemur in captivity, the feds said. Lemurs typically live 20 to 25 years.

Kasbar didn’t intend to take the lemur, the FBI said. “Investigators learned that Kasbar had broken into the zoo with the intention of taking a monkey for a pet, but he couldn’t get any of the monkeys to go with him.”

He cut a hole in the enclosure for lemurs and capuchin monkeys at the zoo, the feds said. When the staff got in that morning, they found several animals wandering the zoo, but they were able to round them all up.

“Those things in totality possibly could’ve caused the animal to die. Thankfully it was returned to the zoo, and the lemur is still alive and doing well,” Santa Ana Police Detective Farshid Hashempour said in a news release from the FBI.

“He seemed pretty unfazed by the adventure,” said Santa Ana Zoo director Ethan Fisher, according to the FBI. “Our vets looked at him and didn’t see any issues. Some animals are more sensitive than other to disturbances, but fortunately, Isaac was okay.”

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.