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Pets & Animals

Man Gets Prison for Stealing Endangered Lemur From Zoo

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SANTA ANA — An Orange County man was sentenced today to three months in federal prison for breaking into the Santa Ana Zoo after hours and stealing North America’s oldest ring-tailed lemur in captivity to keep the endangered animal as his pet.

Aquinas Kasbar, 19, of Newport Beach, was given the 90-day prison sentence by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford, who also ordered him to pay $8,486 in restitution to the zoo.

Kasbar pleaded guilty on July 8 to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species. He broke into the Santa Ana Zoo on July 27, 2018 after it had closed for the day. He then used bolt cutters to cut a hole in the zoo’s enclosures for lemurs and capuchin monkeys, which enabled several of the animals to escape, though they were later recovered.

While inside the zoo, Kasbar stole Isaac, a 32-year-old, ring-tailed lemur (lemur catta) and the oldest such lemur in captivity in North America. (Isaac turned 33 years old in July; a lemur’s lifespan typically is between 20 years and 25 years.)

The ring-tailed lemur is native to Madagascar and is on a list of the 25 most endangered primates, according to court documents. Ring-tailed lemurs are endangered, in part, because of the illegal pet trade, court papers state.

Kasbar then placed Isaac in a plastic drawer that lacked ventilation holes, court papers state. The next day, Kasbar abandoned the animal in front of a Newport Beach hotel, leaving him in the same plastic drawer with two notes placed on it, which read, “Lemur (with tracker)” and “This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police,” according to court documents.

Kasbar’s actions resulted in a loss to the Santa Ana Zoo of approximately $8,486. Isaac later was returned unharmed to the zoo.

his case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Newport Beach Police Department, and the Santa Ana Police Department.

This matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel H. Ahn of the Santa Ana Branch Office and Erik M. Silber of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.

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Health

Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

(TMZ) — It’s becoming more clear by the day that wet markets are NOT just a China problem — it’s an American problem too … just take a look at these latest clips from Texas and California.

TMZ has gotten a hold of even more graphic videos of two different live animal shops in TX and CA — where people pick out the animal, have it slaughtered on the spot and then sold to them right then and there — and you see the mixed-in livestock runs the gamut.

There are pigs in pens, goats and sheep hoarded together … and, of course, as we’ve seen in New York and elsewhere — chicken and rabbits cooped up in cages — all in the same area within earshot of each other, and all getting butchered.

Ya got pigs hanging from hooks out in the open, chicken beaks, feathers and guts all over the floor and in an exposed trash can — this while customers (including kids) come in and browse the freezer for whatever cuts of meat they want. It’s downright dirty and gross.

As we’ve been told by the experts, these one-stop-shop slaughterhouses/storefronts can be breeding grounds for disease — including new viruses, like COVID-19, which supposedly got started at a wet market in China.

We already know of lawmakers in Cali and New York working to get these things shut down, but it’s pretty apparent there needs to be federal legislation rolled out to address this. Can’t call the kettle black when we’re swimming in the freakin’ pot.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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Celebrity News

Joe Exotic Prison Has 2nd Highest ‘Rona Rate

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Joe Exotic Prison Has 2nd Highest 'Rona Rate

FORT WORTH (TMZ) — The prison Joe Exotic is currently being held at is the second leading hotbed for coronavirus in the entire federal prison system — but not to worry … Uncle Sam’s got a plan.

The ‘Tiger King’ star has been locked up at FMC Forth Worth in Texas, and as of Tuesday … there was a total of 298 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates, making it number 2 behind a federal CA facility at 570 inmate cases.

If that sounds troubling, it should … we’ve seen jails and prisons across the U.S. getting besieged with the virus — and some of the inmates are suffering. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has assured us they’re going above and beyond for their prisoners, staff and visitors alike at Joe’s facility to keep them safe and healthy.

As for Joe … his people have repeatedly told us … he’s virus-free.

The agency tells TMZ there’s a comprehensive action plan in place at all of their institutions — which includes reducing inmate transfers, increasing screening and testing, minimizing unnecessary movement on the inside and temporarily canceling social and legal visits, not to mention training for BOP employees. They will also do regular temperature checks.

The trick is … as little congregating as possible. BOP says it’s trying to keep guards at one post for as long as possible to avoid unnecessary interaction.

BOP also tells us they’ve made sure everyone — prisoners and staffers — have received surgical masks. BOP says it has things under control — so far fewer than 5 deaths at the Fort Worth facility … but with nearly 300 cases, it’s gotta be viewed as a full-fledged outbreak.

So … guess that means Joe’s in good hands??? Here’s hoping so.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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Pets & Animals

Dolphins Still Putting on Show in Japan without Spectators

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Dolphins Still Putting on Show in Japan without Spectators

JAPAN (TMZ) — Move over LeBron James … while pro sports leagues are trying to figure out when they can return to action, some dolphins are way ahead of ’em.

These photos are from Hakkeijima Sea Paradise’s special dolphin show Thursday in Yokohama, where they had zero spectators due to the coronavirus quarantine guidelines there.

Animal trainers still did their thing, though, with dolphins and a beluga whale putting on quite a show — despite lacking a crowd of oohing and ahhing humans. Let’s keep it real … the animals are in it for the food.

The show wasn’t just a dress rehearsal … the aquarium videotaped the performance and aired it on the web for folks to watch safely from home.

Makes ya wonder … do the animals feel differently performing without a crowd? Or, is it just a little closer to being in the wild without a loud pack of humanity watching ’em? We sure hope so.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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