We have recently welcomed the arrival of a critically endangered lemur at Wild Place Project. The tiny Lake Aloatra gentle lemur is smaller than a tennis ball but its birth is crucial to the survival of this rare species.
Now two weeks old, the primate is the second gentle lemur to be born to parents Tiana and Roa in the past two years. His brother Hazo is still living in the family group.
They live alongside ring-tailed lemurs, mongoose lemurs, red-bellied lemurs and white-belted ruffed lemurs in our ‘Discover Madagascar’ exhibit.
The birth is great news for the conservation breeding programme for this species of lemur, which is at risk of extinction in its native Madagascar due to loss of habitat.
Joe Norman, animal team leader at Wild Place Project, said: “It’s always exciting to welcome a new born and Tiana is proving to be a fantastic mother and is very attentive towards her baby, holding it close and grooming it.
“We will be keeping an eye on the pair over the coming weeks but the infant appears strong and healthy and has been seen feeding well.”
Keepers do not yet know whether the new lemur is a boy or girl and it could be six months before they discover its gender, at the youngster’s first health check.
In the wild, Lake Alaotra gentle lemurs can be found living around the largest lake in Madagascar, Lake Alaotra.
There are more than 110 different species of lemur in Madagascar but this species is the only primate to have adapted to living in reed and papyrus beds. However, marshlands around the lake have been burnt so people can catch fish and provide areas to graze cattle.
As well as being at risk from habitat loss, their numbers are also threatened by hunters who catch them for food and to keep as pets.
For the past two years, Bristol Zoological Society has been involved in helping to build a new field station in Madagascar that will help to save lemurs.
The Ankarafa field station in the north-western Sahamalaza-Iles Radama National Park will provide a research base for conservationists and scientists who are working to help lemurs of which more than 90 per cent are threatened with extinction.
Bristol Zoological Society, which operates Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work at Wild Place Project and Bristol Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
The Society recently launched an appeal to ensure the future of its work ‘saving wildlife together’. The Society, which is a registered charity, has launched the BZS Appeal following the temporary closure of both its sites in Bristol in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
To find out more, or to make a donation, visit https://bristolzoo.org.uk/bzsappeal.