Monkeys and Lemurs: Arrivals, Babies and Introductions!
October 6, 2010 § Leave a comment
Primates are the RZSS blog topic of conversation this week with some new arrivals all the way from America!
The end of September saw five L’Hoest’s Monkeys (Cercopithecus l’hoesti) arrive from San Diego. The new arrivals consist of three females and two males and a third male has now arrived from France. One of the new females has been paired with our resident male; ‘Kizizi’ and they seem to be getting along great! You may remember that last January Kizizi reached maturity and was separated from his family group, a process that would naturally happen in the wild as young males leave their natal group to go off and start their own families. All of the new arrivals have taken up residence in the monkey house. They will undergo quarantine here before most move on to other collections in Europe.
The past few weeks have seen some enclosure moves in the monkey house in preparation for the new arrivals and one of the groups to move were the Black Howler Monkeys (Allouatta caraya). Earlier this year adult female, Meryl gave birth to an infant and we are happy to announce that keepers have now sexed the infant as female; the first to be born at the zoo!
Other news from the monkey house is that our group of Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus) are being kept busy with two new infants who were born in June. The two were born to different mums and are now at the age where they are becoming more independent. Barbary macaques are born with a black coat but now that our pair are around four months old their coats are almost the same colour as the adult’s. They are great fun to watch as they learn to climb and play, some of the older juveniles are especially interested in the infants. In a barbary macaque group all members of the group can help to look after and carry infants (including males), even from when the infants are first born! The status of Barbary macaques has recently been upgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered by the IUCN red list as wild populations have more than halved over the last 3 generations.
Keepers have also been busy introducing three of our lemur groups. The family of five red bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer) has already successfully been introduced in to our pair of mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz) and the two species seem to be getting along and sharing the enclosure well. Our pair of blue-eyed black lemurs (Eulemur macaco flavifrons) are also going to be gradually introduced to this mixed species exhibit and they are currently living in the enclosure next door, which has access to the outdoor enclosure shared by the red-bellied and mongoose lemurs. Currently the blue-eyed black lemurs are still living separately from the other two species but this layout means that they can meet through the mesh barrier that separates their enclosures. Lemurs all come from the Island of Madagascar and it is common for different species to share the same area.
This enclosure used to house our ring-tailed lemurs and while they were here breeding of this species was extremely successful. Since the departure of this group the zoo has been concentrating on contributing to the breeding programmes of some more endangered species of lemur. The Red-bellied and Mongoose lemurs are both classed by the IUCN red list as Vulnerable which means that they are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild and the blue-eyed black lemurs are classed as Endangered which means that they are facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. The main threat that lemur species are facing is habitat loss, with the forests that they live in being destroyed for agriculture and logging but many species are also hunted either for meat, fur or to be sold on the pet trade.