Taronga Western Plains Zoo has welcomed a baby Ring-tailed Lemur, which is starting to explore independently of its mother after clinging tightly to her chest for its first few weeks of life.
The female Lemur, which Keepers have named Imerina after one of the old kingdoms of Madagascar, was born on 25 August 2015.
Zoo Keepers are thrilled with this breeding success, which comes three years after the arrival of three female Lemurs from Italy to commence the Zoo’s Ring-tailed Lemur breeding program.
“It’s wonderful to have a successful breeding season and a healthy baby on the ground,” Keeper Sasha Brook said. “Imerina is a strong baby and first time mother Rikitra is doing all the right things, nursing and grooming her baby well, which is great to see.”
In the past two to three weeks, Keepers have been delighted to see Imerina starting to explore a little bit independently of her mother.
“She has started to climb on her own and is also starting to mouth solid foods,” Sasha said. “Rikitra is never more than one to two metres away, keeping a watchful eye on her offspring, and rescuing her from any pickles she gets herself into! Imerina is also starting to jump onto her father Bruce’s back. Bruce is an experienced father so he’s taking things in his stride.”
For the short term, Keepers have separated Rikitra and her baby, along with Bruce, from the group’s two other females, to give them time to bond and prevent interference from the females.
“The family is currently alternating access to their island exhibit with the two females, and during the day they have access to their night yards so they can choose to go where they feel most comfortable,” Sasha said. “In time we will introduce the two females back to the group, as it’s important to keep the group cohesive. The females enjoy each other’s company usually; but as a precaution we’re giving them some space.”
When Imerina grows up she will play a vital role in the Zoo-based Ring-tailed Lemur breeding program, and with Lemurs endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction, her birth is very important for the future of her species.
Imerina and her family are located on the Zoo’s Lemur breeding island on the Zoo circuit, adjacent to the African Picnic Ground.