Zoo welcomes red-bellied lemur baby

May 20, 2013 § Leave a comment


On Saturday 4 May, Gizmo, Edinburgh Zoo’s female red-bellied lemur, gave birth to her first baby. Despite only being two weeks old, this small, fluffy bundle has been seen by some of our visitors.

Photo by Dawn Nicoll

Photo by Dawn Nicoll

For the first five weeks of its life, this little pup will be carried on the backs of both parents. After that dad takes over the transporting responsibility, though by this stage the baby will be strong enough to start moving around on its own and exploring its surroundings.

Male red-bellied lemurs are a solid brown-red whereas females have a white belly. This difference in appearance is known as sexual dimorphism and will allow keepers to establish the baby’s gender once it is old enough in a few months’ time.

Gizmo1_jp_17_5_13Mum, Gizmo was born at Linton Zoo in April 2009 and was hand-reared by keepers when her mother rejected her. She was reintroduced to her family once old enough and they came to Edinburgh Zoo in November 2009. Despite her own difficulties as an infant, she is proving to be an excellent mother, which keepers think she picked up by watching her mother rear her brothers.  She has also been fiercely protective of her mate, Bart, since he arrived at the Zoo in June 2012 from Jardin Zoologique Tropical in France.

Native to Madagascar, red-bellied lemurs are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, with the species primarily threatened by both habitat loss and hunting and are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Breeding programmes, such as the one Edinburgh Zoo is part of, are crucial for the conservation of red-bellied lemurs.

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