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Animals Blog

Say hello to two new critically endangered Black and White Ruffed lemur babies at Fota Wildlife Park

Say hello to two new critically endangered Black and White Ruffed lemur babies at Fota Wildlife Park

Say hello to two new critically endangered Black and White Ruffed lemur babies at Fota Wildlife Park

Today Fota Wildlife Park announced the birth of two Black and White Ruffed lemur babies (Varecia  variegatea) to mother ‘Cloud ‘who is seventeen years old and seven-year-old Fota-born dad ‘Paraic’. The baby lemurs were born on the 27th April after a gestation period of 102 days. The species is native to the tropical forests of Eastern Madagascar and has been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to hunting and habitat loss and fragmentation.

Lead Ranger Teresa Power said about the births: “To have a successful birth of two healthy Black and White Ruffed lemur babies is very exciting both for us here at Fota Wildlife Park and for the conservation of the species. In recent months the Rangers on the Primate Section knew that Cloud was likely to be pregnant, so we provided a number of nest boxes on her island which she has been busy lining with small twigs and leaves in preparation for giving birth.” She continued: “In Madagascar, Black and White Ruffed lemur mothers carry their babies in their mouths from one nest to another and then leave them there while they forage for food and Cloud has been doing exactly this in recent weeks. Black and White Ruffed lemur babies grow very fast and our pair are getting big enough now to hitch a ride on mum’s back so visitors to Fota Wildlife Park may be lucky enough to see the two new babies out and about, especially when when the weather is good.”

The Black and White Ruffed lemur is visually striking with dense black and white fur suited to the frequently wet and chilly forests of Madagascar. It is very closely related to the Red Ruffed Lemur and it is the largest lemur species and the largest animal pollinator in the world. The average adult weighs about 4 kilos and can live over 20 years. There are currently two species of lemurs at Fota Wildlife Park; the Black and White Ruffed lemurs and a group of Ring-tailed lemurs which are free-ranging and can be seen around the Wildlife Park at present.

Fota Wildlife Park is currently constructing a Madagascan Village at the eastern end of Palm Walk which will include a visitor experience and educational interactive hub. There will be two new animal houses which will form indoor accommodation for the Black and White Ruffed lemurs, Ring-tailed Lemurs as well as other endangered species from the Island of Madagascar. It is anticipated that this Madagascan Village will open at the end of July 2019. Fota Wildlife Park has been involved with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) and have donated of a quarter of a million euro towards a project to save the Madagascar Pochard from extinction, which culminated in the successful and pioneering release of 21 pochard ducklings last year in Madagascar.

Fota Wildlife Park, part of the Zoological Society of Ireland, is located on 100 acres at Fota Island 10km east of Cork City and has an annual attendance of over 450,000 visitors which makes it one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions. As a conservation charity, the vision of the Wildlife Park is to inspire people to understand and protect the biodiversity of the natural world. Fota Wildlife Park’s core values of conservation, education, and research have been instrumental in fostering greater public understanding of the threats to the biodiversity of animal and plant habitats; as well as maintaining some of the world’s most endangered species. 

Image credits: Ger McCarthy