Lisbon lemurs boost SA gene pool

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Pretoria Zoo is not only a tourist attraction, it is also involved in worldwide conservation efforts aimed at breeding endangered or threatened species.

The zoo recently received a family group of six ring-tailed lemurs from Lisbon Zoo in Portugal as a collaborative effort between the zoo and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. This is the third group that has arrived at the zoo and comprises two males and four females.

The three groups are housed in separate enclosures and will boost the variation in the ring-tailed lemur gene pool in South Africa.

The country’s ring-tailed lemur studbook has been established and is managed by the zoo’s curator of primates.

The zoo is one of only six facilities that keep ring-tailed lemurs in South Africa.

Breeding with ring-tailed lemurs with the aim of reintroduction into protective areas is important as these primates have been listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species.

The ring-tailed lemur is one of 22 species of lemur found only on the island of Madagascar. They share a common ancestry with Africa’s monkeys and apes, but were isolated approximately 50 million years ago when Madagascar split from Africa.

All lemur species today are considered either threatened or endangered due to the rapid destruction of their forest habitat.

Most lemur species are arboreal (tree-dwelling), but ring-tailed lemurs frequently move along the ground. Troops consist of five to 20 individuals and females are generally more dominant than males.

Characterised by a long, bushy black-and-white banded tail, ring-tailed lemurs forage for fruit, which makes up the greater part of their diet, but will also eat leaves, flowers, bark and sap.

The zoo has 23 ring-tailed lemurs, including the new family group. – Pretoria News


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