Birth of a ring-tailed lemur
We have regular births in our group of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) exhibited between L'Hoest's and De Brazza's monkeys. This year is no exception with the arrival of a new baby born on April 22.
Ring-tailed lemurs usually give birth to a single young but twins are born on occasion. They are seasonal breeders: births occur during autumn in Madagascar and during spring in European zoos after about 4 and a half month of gestation. As soon as it is born, the baby lemur is surrounded by all the group members who seek to smell, touch and lick it. Young are carried on their mother's belly for the two first weeks before being transferred on their back or the back of other group members. The baby is weaned at the age of 3 months and completely independent 3 months later.
This is the most terrestrial of the lemurs: they spend about one third of their time on the ground where they like basking in the sun. Groups can gather up to 30 individuals and consist of several males and females of all ages. Females are dominant over males but there's a hierarchy within each sex inside the group. Competition for dominance between females of the same group is quite important and can result in severe wounds because of their sharp upper canines.
The ring-tailed lemur is the most known and studied of all lemurs. It was chosen as its emblem to represent Madagascar National Parks. Classified as "near threatened" on the IUCN Red List, the species was assessed "endangered" during a workshop organised by the Species Survival Commission in 2012, due to a decline of more than 50% of the global population in only 3 generations. Like all other lemurs on the island, ring-tailed lemurs are victim of habitat destruction and fragmentation, as well as poaching for their meat or illegal trade of the young kept as pets.