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Red Ruffed Lemur Brothers Born at Jackson Zoo

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The Jackson Zoological Society is proud to announce the birth of two critically endangered Red Ruffed Lemurs.

On Saturday, May 27, Jackson Zoo keepers arrived at work in the early morning to discover two newborn males in the Lemur exhibit!

New mother, Nekena, arrived at the Jackson Zoo in December of 2016 from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. She joined the Zoo’s resident father and son, Timmy and Phoenix, respectively, as part of the Red Ruffed Lemur Species Survival Plan.

“The 2017 Breeding and Transfer Plan was published this past February. At that time we had 187 Red Ruffed Lemurs in the Species Survival Plan®(SSP), where we recommended 18 males and 16 females for breeding,” said Christie Eddie, Red Ruffed Lemur SSP Coordinator at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. “We are in the midst of birthing season and these offspring are among birth reports from five SSP institutions. I expect more to come!”

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3_Lemurs on a pillowPhoto Credits: EJ Rivers/ Jackson Zoo

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Red Ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) as “Critically Endangered”. Found only in a small area of Madagascar, they are the most endangered type of Lemur in the world due to increased cyclones, illegal logging, and the illegal exotic pet trade. According to the IUCN, there are only approximately 35 Lemurs on average per square kilometer in their native habitat and declining rapidly. Less than 65% of newborn young survive to three-months of age in the wild, and there are less than 600 in zoos or refuges in the world.

“We are absolutely delighted to see these two little ones arrive, both for our park and the species as a whole” said Jackson Zoo Executive Director, Beth Poff. “More than a third of the animals at the Jackson Zoo are either endangered or threatened, and although every birth here is special to the staff, adding numbers to an endangered species is that much more precious.”

The Jackson Zoological Society participates in Species Survival Plans for many other animals, including successful births for the Pygmy Hippo and the Sumatran Tiger. The Jackson Zoo also regularly submits information and samples to dozens of ongoing international studies.

Now barely three weeks old, the Red Ruffed Lemur brothers are getting stronger every day. Unfortunately, it was the first pregnancy and birth for their hand-raised mom, Nakena, whose inexperience with newborns was apparent. Vet Tech, Donna Todd, stepped in and has been hand-raising the endangered babies ever since May 27th.

According to the Zoo, the two are like ‘night-and-day’ when it comes to temperament (one decidedly vocal, one much quieter). But both boys are eating well, have bright eyes, are jumping and playing equal amounts, and are more curious about their surroundings every day.

Special public viewings at the Jackson Zoo Vet Hospital are being arranged, and the Zoo hopes to be able to let the public “meet” them (at a distance) within the next month or so.

Visitors and Jackson Zoo members can visit the adult Lemurs during regular zoo hours (seven days a week from 9 am to 4 pm), and follow the Jackson Zookeepers on Instagram (@JacksonZoo) for close-ups and behind-the-scenes photos of all the park residents. People can also “adopt” the baby Lemurs (or their parents) for twelve months by contacting EJ Rivers at: ejrivers@jacksonzoo.org.

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