Lemur twins born at Belfast Zoo

Published Friday, 28 September 2012
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Belfast Zoo is celebrating the arrival of new white-belted ruffed lemur twins.

Lemur twins born at Belfast Zoo
The new lemurs have not been named yet. (© Belfast Zoo)

The zoo became home to white-belted ruffed lemurs in 2009 when male Wakka arrived from Newquay and and female Mianta arrived from France.

The lemurs are part of a European breeding programme and Mianta and Wakka successfully became parents on 22 July.

White-belted ruffed lemurs are found on the island of Madagascar, which is home to a diverse range of species, many of which are unique to the island.

As the fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar is home to more than 80 different species of lemur.

However, Madagascar has one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet and more than 80% of its forests have disappeared since the 1950s, leaving many irreplaceable species in danger of extinction.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers this lemur to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction.

Deforestation is the main threat facing the white-belted ruffed lemur and they are also hunted for fur, meat and the illegal pet trade.

Mark Challis, zoo manager, said "The whole zoo team is delighted with the new arrivals. Although we have bred other species of lemur in the past, including our 'ever popular' ring-tailed lemurs, this is first time that we have bred white-belted ruffed lemurs.

"They are actually very unusual as young ruffed lemurs do not cling to their mothers, like many other primates. Instead the mother builds a nest to keep the babies safe and she will carry the young in her mouth.

"However, the twins are now becoming more confident and mischievous and are beginning to explore their enclosure."

The new arrivals are good news for the breeding programme, as there are only 50 white-belted ruffed lemurs in captivity and every birth helps ensure their future survival.

© UTV News
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