Police say suspect in San Francisco Zoo theft had cell-phone photos of Maki the lemur
San Rafael police arrested a man they say stole a truck — and now he’s wanted for the theft of Maki, the San Francisco Zoo lemur, after officers said they discovered photos of the endangered animal on his cell phone.
Cory McGilloway, 30, became a suspect Friday in Maki’s disappearance, just one day after San Rafael police detained him in connection with the theft of a Marin Sanitary Service truck.
San Francisco police said they have secured an arrest warrant for McGilloway. It’s the latest twist in the case of the missing lemur that has transfixed the nation.
Maki was safely recovered in a Daly City playground Thursday evening and taken back to the zoo.
Once released from the Marin County jail, McGilloway will be transferred to San Francisco County jail and face charges of grand theft of an animal, burglary, looting and vandalism, San Francisco police Lt. Scott Ryan said Friday.
San Rafael police received a report of a stolen truck near Anderson Drive on Thursday night around 10 p.m., spokesman Lt. Dan Fink said Friday. Officers tailed the truck for several minutes before pulling it over and confronting McGilloway, police said.
The arresting officers requested to view McGilloway’s phone and he consented, Fink said, calling the request to view a suspect’s phone “standard investigative procedure.”
That’s when the officers found pictures of Maki among the photos. McGilloway was booked at the Marin County jail for theft of the truck and officers notified the San Francisco Police Department about the photos of Maki. Investigators from the San Francisco Police Department’s burglary unit interviewed McGilloway at the jail, where he remained Friday night.
In another bizarre twist of fate, one of the San Rafael officers who arrested McGilloway had taken his child to the zoo the day Maki’s disappearance was reported.
“There is no such things as a coincidence in police work,” Fink said.
The 21-year-old lemur was found lurking near a Daly City pre-school Thursday, just hours before McGilloway was taken into custody and two days after he vanished from the zoo’s Lipman Family Lemur Forest habitat.
Daly City police officers responded to reports of a lemur sighting at the Hope Lutheran Day School playground at about 5 p.m. Thursday. Maki remained hidden in a house on the school’s playground until handlers scooped him up and returned him to the zoo roughly five miles away, police said.
Maki was “agitated and dehydrated” but otherwise healthy on Thursday after his brief stint on the lam, said Tanya Peterson, the zoo’s executive director and president.
The ring-tailed lemur was being monitored in isolation for a brief recovery period before rejoining his peers in the tree-lined enclosure.
“It’s the perfect ending,” said Peterson.
Five-year old James Trinh spotted an animal that looked like a lemur in the parking lot of the school and pointed it out to his mother, who was picking him up from school. James is familiar with lemurs from visits to the zoo, his father Sam Trinh said Friday.
James’s mother and the school quickly called the Daly City police, who alerted animal control and zoo officials.
Maki scampered from the parking lot into the school’s playground, where he took refuge in a miniature play house.
Zoo officials arrived soon after. The gathered children, parents and teachers watched as caretakers coaxed the errant lemur into a transport cage — without the use of tranquilizers.
James and the other preschoolers got an unexpected extracurricular lesson as they watched the rescue play out, the school’s director Cynthia Huang said Friday afternoon.
“The best part is that they got a private showing, up close,” Huang said.
Zoo officials announced Friday that they would donate the $2,100 reward to the school as a token of gratitude for Maki’s safe return. The reward is calculated as $100 for every year of the lemur’s life.
For Huang, Maki’s appearance at the school was a rare moment of joy in an otherwise stressful time. The Christian pre-school recently returned to in-person lessons after months of virtual learning.
“We returned to school, but everything is so different for them,” she said. “I’m so glad they had a happy thing happen.”
James was “oblivious” to his newfound fame for his role in Maki’s safe return, his father said.