Taronga Western Plains Zoo excitedly welcomed the birth of two sets of Ring-tailed Lemur twins! The first set was born on October 5, and the second pair arrived October 17.
Mothers Rakitra and Cleo are both doing well and keepers are pleased with the maternal behaviors they are displaying towards their babies.
“Both Rakitra and Cleo are new mothers, they have had offspring before but sadly none of their young have survived past the first 12 weeks, so we’re taking things very slowly,” said Keeper Sasha Brook.
“So far the mothers and their babies are doing well and we are very happy with progress to date. Both mums are quite protective and are very careful of the way they move around and the speed at which they move around, ensuring their babies are holding on properly,” said Sasha.
The babies will cling to their mothers until they are about four months old, but they have started to venture short distances away from their mothers to play. They are also starting to mouth and chew on food, but at this stage, it is simply practice and doesn’t serve a nutritional purpose. Ring-tailed Lemur babies are generally weaned from their mothers at around two months of age.
“Ring-tailed Lemur twins and triplets are not uncommon. In the wild, multiple births are usually dependent on a good season and an abundance of food,” Sasha continued.
Ring-tailed Lemur babies grow and develop rapidly; just like humans they need to learn how to do everything such as walking, jumping and climbing.
“When they are born, they instinctively know how to cling on to their mothers, but everything else they learn over a short period of time,” said Sasha.
The two sets of Ring-tailed Lemur twins are currently not on exhibit, as they are being given plenty of time to bond with their mothers, but they can occasionally be seen in the breeding facility from the perimeter fence. The mothers and their babies are likely to be on exhibit in the New Year.
The Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) is a large strepsirrhine primate. It belongs to the family Lemuridae and is the only member of the Lemur genus. Like all Lemurs, it is endemic to the island of Madagascar.
The animal is diurnal and highly social, living in groups of up to 30 individuals.
Despite reproducing readily in captivity and numbering more than 2,000 individuals in zoos, the Ring-tailed Lemur is currently listed as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List. Habitat destruction, hunting for bush meat, and the exotic pet trade has led to the species being at risk.