SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A Newport Beach man who stole a ring-tailed lemur from the Santa Ana Zoo after hours struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
Aquinas Kasbar, 19, agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species and faces a statutory maximum penalty of one year in federal prison, along with a $100,000 fine.
Kasbar broke into the Santa Ana Zoo on July 27, 2018 after it closed for the day, used bolt cutters in the zoo’s enclosure for lemurs and capuchin monkeys and stole Isaac, a 32-year-old ring-tailed lemur and North America’s oldest ring-tailed lemur in captivity, according to the plea agreement filed Monday. Lemurs typically live 20 to 25 years and is on a list of the 25 most endangered primates.
Prosecutors say Kasbar put Isaac in a plastic drawer that lacked ventilation holes, then abandoned him in front of a Newport Beach hotel the next day. Court papers say Kasbar left Isaac in the plastic drawers with two notes, one that read “Lemur (with tracker)” and “This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police.”
Cutting the hole inside the lemur and capuchin monkey enclosure allowed several animals to escape, although they were later recovered. Kasbar’s actions cost the Santa Ana Zoo approximately $8,486.
Kasbar is scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court on May 28.