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Lemurs On Loan From Duke Stolen From Audubon Zoo

September 6, 1986

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A pair of rare brown lemurs, missing overnight from Audubon Zoo, were back home Friday, and a man with a serious leg bite and a teen-ager were arrested, police said.

Police said someone apparently cut through the wire cage Thursday that held the two Madagascar-born lemurs on loan to the zoo from Duke University.

On Friday, George Johnson, 30, and a 16-year-old boy went to a grocery store near the zoo and said Johnson had been bitten by a monkey, said police spokesman David Adams.

At the store owner’s suggestion, they called the zoo, then led authorities to a vacant apartment where the animals were recovered, Adams said.

The two were booked for possession of stolen property, authorities said. Adams said it was not known if the two had taken the animals.

Johnson was taken to a hospital for treatment of a serious bite on the leg, Adams said.

The animals are listed as an endangered species. Their theft prompted warnings that they had dangerously sharp canine teeth.

The captured lemurs were returned to the zoo and reunited with their baby, which was left behind in the cage, Adams said. The baby, born earlier this year, had been weaned and apparently was not bothered by the absence of the parents.

The lemurs, about 20 inches tall with grayish-brown fur, were worth as much as $2,000 each, said zoo spokeswoman Karen Asis. There are only about 200 alive in captivity.

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