Ring-tailed Lemur Animals & Plants

About the Ring-tailed Lemur

Made famous by Dreamwork’s Madagascar films and the series’ lovable King Julien character, the Ring-tailed Lemur is recognisable by its black and white-ringed tail. About a metre in length if the tail is included, the animal’s fur is grey or rosy-brown and white with black markings around its eyes and fox-like muzzle.

Habitat

Lemurs hail solely from the island of Madagascar, and the Ring-tailed variety moves between forests and scrub in southwestern areas.

Wild Notes

The species is thought to be the oldest living Primate in the world - its ancestors having made their way to the island from mainland Africa over 65 million years ago. Its name also means ‘Spirits of the Night’ or ghosts.

The animal is very social and lives in groups of up to 30 individuals, cuddling together to reaffirm bonds and to keep warm. It’s omnivorous and the most terrestrial of all Lemurs, spending up to a third of its time on the ground. Home ranges vary between six and 35 hectares and groups tend to remain in one area for a couple of days before moving on, traveling about one kilometre at any one time.

In a trait that’s characteristic amongst all Lemurs, the female is dominant. She usually has one or two young and, when born, baby Lemurs will cling to the underside of their mother for around two weeks before moving on to her back after that.

The Lemur has scent glands on its forearms and inside its upper arms for marking out its territory. It lives up to 20 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity.

Conservation

The species is considered to be Near Threatened having previously been listed as Critically Endangered because of habitat destruction, hunting and periodic droughts. Estimates have recorded between 29,000 and 52,000 left in the wild.

Did you know?

The male Lemur often participates in 'Stink Fights' when fighting a rival. It will cover its tail with a stinky smell from its own scent glands and then wave it at an opponent in the hope of forcing him backwards with the odour. The species walks on all four limbs, holding its tail upright with the tip curving away to form the shape of a question mark.

The Fota Connection

The Ring-tailed Lemur has been an ever present at Fota Wildlife Park since it opened its gates in 1983. The current group of animals is often seen sunbathing in the morning, exposing their stomachs to the sun as they warm up, or found gathered around one of the outdoor heaters in and around the Monkey Islands.

The group is free ranging in the Park but all the animals are closely monitored by the Park’s Animal Patrollers, who ensure that visitors don’t encroach on their activities too much at busy times.

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The impetus for the development of the Asia Sanctuary is to enhance the Wildlife Park to become an iconic international visitor attraction.

The concept of the development will be in line with the existing unique open nature of the Wildlife Park but will be designed to give this new development an authentic Asian ambiance.

Phase 1: Asian Forestry June 2014

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Phase 2: Asian Wetlands June 2015

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Phase 3: Asian Plains June 2016

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