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Press Release

Southern California Man Faces Federal Charge For Stealing Endangered Ring-Tailed Lemur From San Francisco Zoo

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO - Cory John McGilloway appeared in federal court today and was arraigned on an information charging him with a violation of the Endangered Species Act, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair.

According to the affidavit supporting the information’s warrant, McGilloway, 31 and residing in Los Angeles, is alleged to have entered the San Francisco Zoo on the night of October 13, 2020, and stolen one of the zoo’s four ring-tailed lemurs.  The stolen lemur was named “Maki” and was 21 years old at the time.

Picture of ring-tailed lemur named "Maki"

The affidavit states that on October 15, two days after the theft, a woman reported to the San Francisco Police Department that she had video-recorded a man on Treasure Island the day before walking a lemur on a leash.  The video captured images of the lemur and of the man, who had distinctive tattoos and is believed to be McGilloway.  The man walked the lemur to a maroon car, according to the allegations, which was identified as a Saab.

Around 5 p.m. on October 15, the affidavit states, a 5-year-old boy spotted the unattended animal at a Daly City playground.  Authorities were able to catch and return Maki to the zoo.  Maki was hungry, dehydrated, and agitated, according to the affidavit.

McGilloway was arrested in San Rafael shortly before midnight on October 15, the affidavit describes, when police responded to a shoplifting report at the Smart & Final store and found McGilloway driving a stolen sanitary dump truck.  The affidavit states that a maroon Saab was parked nearby.

Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) are native to Madagascar, are listed as an endangered species, and are deemed endangered “wherever found,” under federal regulation 50 C.F.R. § 17.11(h).  The charging information contains the photograph of Maki above.

McGilloway is charged in the information with one count of violating the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1538(a)(1)(B) and 1540(b)(1).  If convicted, McGilloway faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of up to $50,000.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

An information merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

McGilloway appeared in federal court today before United States Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley.  McGilloway is currently in custody in Los Angeles, though he is released on bond in the present federal charge.  McGilloway’s next scheduled appearance is at 11:00 a.m. on July 22, 2021, for status hearing before United States Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley.

Joseph Tartakovsky is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rebecca Shelton.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the San Francisco Police Department. 

Updated June 28, 2021