La Palmyre Zoo, in France, recently welcomed four new Ring-tailed Lemurs!
The infants were born to three different mothers between March 3 and March 12. The sexes of the infants are yet-to-be-determined, but Zoo Keepers report that the youngsters (which includes a set of twins) are keeping their families busy and doing fantastic!
The Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) is a large strepsirrhine primate and recognized due to its long, black and white ringed tail. It belongs to Lemuridae, one of five Lemur families, and is the only member of the Lemur genus.
It is endemic to the island of Madagascar and inhabits deciduous forests, dry scrub, humid forests, and gallery forests along riverbanks. The species is omnivorous and the diet includes flowers, herbs, bark and sap, as well as spiders, caterpillars, cicadas, grasshoppers, and small vertebrates.
The Ring-tailed Lemur is the most terrestrial of extant lemurs. It is also diurnal, being active exclusively in daylight hours.
The Ring-tailed Lemur is highly social, living in groups (troops) of up to 30 individuals. It is also female dominant, a trait common among Lemurs.
Gestation lasts for about 135 days. In the wild, one offspring is the norm, although twins may occur. Ring-tailed Lemur infants have an average birth weight of 70 g (2.5 oz) and are carried on the chest for the first 1 to 2 weeks, then on the back.
Young Lemurs begin to eat solid food after two months and are fully weaned after five months. Sexual maturity is reached between 2.5 and 3 years. Male involvement in infant rearing is limited, although the entire troop, regardless of age or sex, can be seen caring for the young. ‘Alloparenting’ between troop females has been reported. The longest-lived Ring-tailed Lemur in the wild was a 20-year-old female at the Berenty Reserve. The maximum lifespan reported in captivity was 27 years.
Despite reproducing readily in captivity and being the most populous Lemur in zoos worldwide, numbering more than 2,000 individuals, the Ring-tailed Lemur is currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List. Threatening factors include: habitat destruction, hunting for bush meat, and the exotic pet trade.