Audubon Zoo Welcomes Two Lemur Babies
Wednesday, June 14, 2016
Maki, a female, and Gidro, a male, were born on April 22 and began exploring the Zoo's lemur habitat this month. Maki is French for lemur and Gidro is how you say lemur in Malagasy. Those are the dominant languages on the island, the fourth largest in the world.
The birth of the black-and-white ruffed lemurs was a first for Audubon Zoo, which has been attempting to breed them since the mother, Tahiri, and father, Gascar, arrived in 2013. Gascar and Tahiri were paired because their genetics were considered ideal for increasing a genetically diverse population.
Tahiri has been an attentive mother, making sure the babies are safe and watching over them as they become comfortable in their new home. Over the past several weeks, the Audubon Zoo primate team has enjoyed observing the lemurs as they grow and become more independent.
The lemur, a species found only on the island of Madagascar off the southeast coast of Africa, is critically endangered. The primary threat to the species is habitat loss due to lack of sustainable agriculture practices that affect most wildlife around the world. Due to its size, the black-and-white ruffed species is also hunted for food.
"Unfortunately, the next step for them is extinction,'' said Courtney Eparvier, curator of primates and sea lions at Audubon Zoo. "For that reason, breeding this species in zoos is critical.
"Audubon, like other zoos that are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), follows strict recommendations for breeding. This ensures that genetic diversity within the breeding population remains at a high level, which in turn, helps sustain a healthy population.''
Eparvier said everyone can play a role in protecting the species by checking for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) stamp of approval when buying wood and paper products. She said the stamp offers assurance that the products we buy have come from a responsible source.
Visually, lemurs are striking animals whose name in Latin means "spirits of the night.'' Lemurs are agile climbers with hands similar in structure to a human hand, including opposable thumbs that allow them to grip when climbing and to hold objects.
Click here to see a photo gallery of the Audubon Zoo lemurs.
Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Special Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.