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Man: Pet lemur is just too exotic for LITH
By Lenore T. Adkins | Daily Herald Staff

As the saying goes, dogs are a man´s best friend. But for Lake in the Hills resident Troy Evert, it's a lemur named Ringo. Lake in the Hills has given Evert 90 days to find another home for Ringo.


Courtesy Troy Evert

As the saying goes, dogs are a man´s best friend. But for Lake in the Hills resident Troy Evert, it's a lemur named Ringo.


Courtesy Troy Evert

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Published: 6/27/200 12:00 AM | Updated: 6/27/2009 12:26 AM

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Dogs have long been known as man's best friend.

But Lake in the Hills resident Troy Evert is proud to call Ringo, his ringtail lemur, his best friend.

Now, Evert says, Lake in the Hills officials have come between that friendship, deeming Ringo, a five-pound primate standing two-feet tall, a wild animal that cannot live in the village.

Village trustees this week refused Evert's request for special permission to keep 6-year-old Ringo, his pet for four years, and instead gave him 90 days to find the pet a new home.

Evert plans to meet with an attorney next week to see whether there's a legal loophole that would allow Ringo to stay.

The couple also are considering moving to a place where Ringo would be welcome. Evert said he would make temporary arrangements for an institution to use Ringo for educational purposes until he and his family found a new home of their own.

"A lot of guys have dogs as their best friend and I run into a lot of ladies that have cats as best friends," said Evert, a cable television installer. "I just happen to have a lemur and he's mine. Everybody gets to choose who they want as their best friend."

But not if it involves animals in Lake in the Hills.

Village code prohibits residents from owning naturally wild animals, unless the owner represents zoological parks, educational institutions, veterinary hospitals or animal exhibitions.

Evert previously lived in McCullom Lake and says nobody there had a problem with Ringo, whose species hails from Madagascar and is related to monkeys and apes.

But days after moving to Lake in the Hills in May, police tipped off by a neighbor arrived on Evert's doorstep and issued him a citation for owning a prohibited animal.

Trustee Denise Barreto says she understands Evert's situation, and applauds him for rescuing Ringo from a neglected home.

But letting Ringo stay would require commissioning a study on exotic pets and run the risk of opening "a can of worms" if the village started making exceptions, she said.

A 2007 news article about about a ringtail lemur attacking an 8-year-old boy in Louisiana also gave Barreto second thoughts.

According to the article, the lemur bit the boy twice on his arm and shoulder, leaving cuts and bruises. The boy was required to undergo four rounds of shots to prevent rabies.

"It's one of those things where I don't want that to be us - I don't want that to be our community," Barreto said. "I totally empathize with (Evert), but I have to govern for the greater good of the community."