Fota Wildlife Park has released the first images of their new baby Black and White Ruffed Lemur, the first to be born in the Cork attraction which is critically endangered with fewer than 500 left in the wild.
The baby boy which has yet to be named was born 4 weeks ago to mother Pudden and father Podge. It spent the first 3 weeks in a tree nest which the mother started to build a week before the birth. Black and White Ruffed Lemurs are the only primate species that build a nest as the babies are carried around be fully developed when born therefore can’t cling onto its mother.
Ruffed lemurs are considered an "evolutionary enigma" in that they are the largest of the extant species of lemur yet they are the only primates that build nests for their newborns. They also carry the babies by mouth, and exhibit an absentee parental system by stashing them in a nest while they forage for food. However the babies develop relatively quickly, traveling independently in the wild after 70 days and attaining full adult size by six months.
The Black & White Lemur is native to the island of Madagascar, off the east African coast, and though it has a larger range within the rainforests on the eastern side of the island than the Red Ruffed Lemur, it has much smaller population numbers. The Lemur is also arboreal, spending most of its time high up in the tree canopy.
Like its relative the Red Ruffed Lemur, the Black & White Ruffed Lemur is named for the long thick fur that grows around its head and body. An agile and active primate, males and females are very similar in appearance and generally weigh between seven and 12 pounds.
Fota is home to three of the 16 species of Lemur in the world today and two of those varieties are the Black and White and Red Ruffed species. The Ruffed Lemurs live on separate islands near each other in the Lakes area and it is hoped to expand the Park’s collection of Lemurs in the coming years. The Park continues to support ongoing scientific work that aims to help the species in the wild, along with the Jersey-based Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
The park has also launched their updated website www.fotawildlife.ie in the last few weeks. The site is full of details on all their animals and conservation work but also allows members of the public to put up comments, pictures and videos through their Fotabook page which takes content relevant about the park from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr.