Two critically endangered lemurs born at ‘delighted’ Fota Wildlife Park

Fewer than 250 black and white ruffed lemurs are found in the wild

 

Two critically endangered lemurs have been born at Fota Wildlife Park in Co Cork.

There are fewer than 250 black and white ruffed lemurs found in the wild today. The species is native to the tropical forests of eastern Madagascar.

The lemurs were born on June 6th after a gestation period of 102 days to mother Cloud who is 18 and father Paraic, who was born in Fota Wildlife Park, and is 10 years her junior.

The two newly arrived black and white ruffed lemurs. Photograph: Fota Wildlife Park
The two newly arrived black and white ruffed lemurs. Photograph: Fota Wildlife Park

They successfully mated last year and share their island habitat with older twin brothers Nimbus and Cumulus who were born in May last year.

The species has been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to hunting and habitat loss and fragmentation.

The species is characterised by a number of unique behaviour patterns. These lemurs are born in nests and are unable to cling to their mother. The female will therefore carry her offspring in her mouth for the first three to four weeks. After this period, the young can cling to the mother while she moves through the forest.

Lead ranger Teresa Power said they are “delighted” with the births especially as the new arrivals get on great with their twin brothers who love playing with them.

“At first, Cloud was very protective of the new babies, moving them from one nesting area to another as she would do in the wild, but in recent weeks they are getting much more active and are beginning to climb trees and jump about by themselves,” Ms Power said.

“When the rangers go across the lake to their island to feed them twice a day, the babies are sometimes discovered sitting in their food dishes which is really cute,” she said.

The two newly arrived black and white ruffed lemurs. Photograph: Fota Wildlife Park
The two newly arrived black and white ruffed lemurs. Photograph: Fota Wildlife Park

“We have also noticed that dad Paraic has been helping Cloud with babysitting duties, standing guard over the twins while she gets something to eat giving her a well-earned break. We won’t know for a while yet whether the babies are male or female.”

The Primate Islands and the Palm Walk at Fota has recently undergone a regeneration. This area now features the Madagascan Village, which was officially opened last December and includes a courtyard surrounded by open-windowed houses with red-bellied lemurs, black and white lemurs and a new group of ring-tailed lemurs. The ring-tailed lemurs here will shortly be introduced to the free-roaming group of ring-tailed lemurs.

Fota Wildlife Park is now operating a prebooking online system to help comply with social distancing requirements.