The Sacramento Zoo welcomed four Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur babies on May 17. The babies have been growing fast in an off-exhibit area with mom.
Photo Credits: Christa Klein (1,2,3,4); Sacramento Zoo (5)
Ruffed Lemurs are the only primates that keep their young in nests instead of carrying them. In the wilds of their native Madagascar, these Lemurs nest in tree cavities. At the zoo, keepers provide tubs and crates as nesting sites. Just as she would in the wild, the mother Lemur moves her babies from nest to nest in her enclosure.
At a few weeks of age, the baby Lemurs began following mom around and practicing their climbing skills. For now, the babies’ father and older brother live separately from mom and her young, but they can all see and smell each other through a mesh door. This will make the introduction process, when the family is completely reunited in a few months, go much smoother.
Infant Lemurs are pint-sized versions of adults, with the same black-and-white coat colors. Each individual has a slightly different coat pattern with varying amounts of white, black, and even some shades of brown. Eye color often starts out as blue and then changes (often multiple times in the same individual) to yellow, gold, or green.
In Madagascar, Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Because they are large, these Lemurs are hunted for their meat. As rain forests are cut to make way for agriculture, the Lemurs’ habitat is destroyed. They now live in only a few isolated forest pockets on the island.