Lemur Conservation Foundation of Myakka welcomes four new babies from two endangered populations.
As the name suggests, the purpose of Myakka City’s Lemur Conservation Foundation is helping to save the lemur population.
For that reason, Executive Director Deborah Millman said this spring’s birthing season has been an exciting time for all those at the foundation.
A collared brown lemur was born at the foundation April 2, and red-ruffed lemur triplets were born April 13.
Any lemur birth is exciting, but the foundation said the specific species born are special. Collared brown lemurs are endangered, while red-ruffed lemurs are critically endangered, just one step away from extinction. This is the fourth successful collared brown birth in the foundation’s 25-year existence, and its first multiple red-ruffed birth since 2008.
It’s “a safety net for their species,” Millman said. “We work with institutions all over the country, and actually all over the world, to save the species by doing what we can to give them the ability to breed and be reared in a healthy, safe environment.”
The babies have not been named yet, but the red-ruffed lemurs eventually will be given names in Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar. Their mom’s name is Zazabe and their dad is named Ranomamy. The collared brown baby will be given a French name to match its parents, Isabelle and Olivier.
Curator of Primates Caitlin Kenney said the first hurdle after birth was observing whether the mothers, both of whom gave birth for the first time, were taking well to motherhood. Kenney said they have both provided active care for their infants.
The red-ruffed triplets, all girls, have doubled their birth weights (about 100 grams each). They will reach adult size at about eight months.
The red-ruffed triplets are beginning to move around their enclosures on their own. They are leaving the nest where their mother cares for them and crawling along the ground or climbing on a beautyberry bush.
“That is driving mom bonkers,” Kenney said. “She'll go and she'll get one out of the bush. She'll bring it back to where it was, and she turns around, and there's another one up in the bush already. It's pretty entertaining to watch, actually, but she's doing a fantastic job.”
The collared brown baby has continued to cling to its mother and will likely continue to do so for two to six more weeks as it gains weight. This means foundation staff members can’t yet work hands-on with the collared brown baby the way they can with the red-ruffed triplets. For this reason, the foundation has not yet determined the baby’s sex.
“We let (the mom) do all of the work,” Kenney said. “We don't disturb her at all, and we just watch the baby grow.”
The collared brown baby likely won’t reach adult size until it’s about a year and a half old, according to Kenney.
The next big tests for the babies of both species and their mothers will be weaning, followed by forest introductions for the red-ruffed lemurs when they’re about four months old. Kenney said babies can occasionally be scared of the trees in the forest when they first see them because they are much larger than the small trees and low-hanging branches in their enclosures. In the long run, they get over that fear and treat the forest like a jungle gym.
The foundation does not yet have free-range forest space for collared brown lemurs, though it will be included as part of its expansion project. In the meantime, the collared brown baby will grow up with its mom and dad in one of the specialized enclosures, which is designed to mimic many aspects of natural forest living.
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