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Critically endangered lemurs leap onto the scene

Date: 25 May 2017

Lemur baby

We are celebrating the arrival of three critically endangered white-belted ruffed lemurs and we need your help naming the wide-eyed wonders.

The competition closed on Friday 9 June.

We first became home to white-belted ruffed lemurs in 2009, when dad, Wakka, arrived from Newquay Zoo in Cornwall and mum, Mianta, arrived from Beasancon Zoo in France. The pair are part of a global and collaborative breeding programme and, since their arrival at Belfast Zoo, they have welcomed more than ten infants.

Senior keeper, Allan Galway, said “The triplets were born on 7 April 2017. However, ruffed lemurs are different from other lemur species, as their babies don’t cling to the mother. Babies are either carried in their mother’s mouth or left in a safe nest in a nearby tree. The triplets are now becoming more confident and mischievous and are starting to leave the nest to explore their surroundings. This has given us the opportunity to discover the sex of the new arrivals, three little girls, and we now need the public’s help to name the latest arrivals.”

White-belted ruffed lemurs are found on the island of Madagascar, which is home to a diverse range of species, many of which are unique to the island. As the fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar is home to more than 100 different species of lemur and unique species which are found nowhere else in the world. However, Madagascar has one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet and more than 80 percent of its forests have disappeared since the 1950s, leaving many irreplaceable species in danger of extinction. This is mainly due to ‘slash and burn’ agriculture in Madagascar, which means chopping down a bit of forest, burning the trees and planting rice or crops. However, after a few years the soil is no longer fertile and farmers move on and do the same again in another area, destroying more of the forest habitats of animals already in danger.

Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, says “Some research has estimated that if the rate of deforestation in Madagascar continues, lemurs could be extinct within 25 years. We are home to a number of Madagascan mammal, reptile and amphibian species, including crowned sifaka, red bellied lemur, ring-tailed lemur, Madagascan tree boa, Dumeril’s boa, golden mantella and fossa! We work with zoos around the world through collaborative breeding programmes. Every birth is not only a celebration for Belfast Zoo but for the conservation efforts to ensure the future survival of these lemurs.”

There was monkey madness this bank holiday at Belfast Zoo. From 27 to 29 May 2017, visitors swung by with their ‘little monkeys’ to enjoy some primate themed keeper talks and feeding times.

Learn more about the primates we care for, the work that zoos carry out to protect these species and the conservation projects that Belfast Zoo supports in the wild.

Lemur naming competition

This competition closed on Friday 9 June 2017 at 4pm. Winners will be announced shortly.

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Lemur babies born