LAKE IN THE HILLS – A Lake in the Hills family says they might move after the Village Board this week turned down their request to be allowed to keep their pet ring-tailed lemur.
“It’s like giving up one of your children,” Troy Evert said about Ringo, a 5-year-old lemur he took in after it was rescued from an abusive home. “I’d rather move than give him up.”
The village gave the family 90 days to work through the situation and either find a new home for Ringo or the entire family, and the clock is ticking.
April Fox and Evert moved into the village in May but waited about a month before moving their pet primate into their home. The day after they brought Ringo to Lake in the Hills, a police officer came to their door, telling them that a neighbor reported that they were harboring an exotic animal.
“I brought him inside, then the cops came and served me the next day,” Evert said. “Of course, this had to happen right after the chimpanzee came and attacked somebody.”
But at the size of a large house cat, Ringo doesn’t strike the same figure as the 200-pound chimp that nearly ripped the face off a Connecticut woman in February.
“I can understand lions and elephants and things that could kill people, but [Ringo] lives in a cage and eats mostly fruit,” Fox said.
Lemurs such as Ringo, along with other exotic animals, generally are not allowed to be owned or housed in Lake in the Hills or McHenry County, with limited exceptions for zoos, performing animal exhibitions, education institutions, research or veterinary hospitals.
The 3-by-5-foot cage in the Fox-Evert household’s dining room does not make the cut in the eyes of the Village Board.
When he first took in Ringo after a friend rescued him from a neglectful owner, Evert tried to find the lemur a suitable home.
“I tried to give him to a zoo or a refuge; I wanted to get him back to Madagascar if I could,” he said. “But he is considered domesticated, so the zoos I called wouldn’t take him.”
Now, Evert said, he is trying to get established as an educational exhibitor and start taking Ringo to schools to try to get within one of the law’s provisions, but said he didn’t think that would be enough for the Village Board to change course.
“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” Village Administrator Gerald Sagona said. “The family should have researched our ordinances before moving.”
Village President Ed Plaza said the ordinance is in place for a reason and doesn’t need to be changed.
“Simply because there is one family that came here with an animal there isn’t an overwhelming need to change the ordinance,” Plaza said.
Jennifer Corbin, who owns Corbin’s Exotic Pets in Marengo, said the situation brings to light the importance of checking when moving whether one’s pets comply with the rules and regulations of the new home.
“You just have to research it,” she said.