09/01/2019

Baby lemur arrival

​​A tiny lemur weighing only as much as an apple but crucial to the survival of its species has been born at Bristol Zoo Gardens.

The rare Lake Alaotran gentle lemur arrived a few days ago and is thriving in the care of its mum, Alina.

The birth is great news for the Zoo which has kept this Critically Endangered species since 1990.

Sarah Gedman, mammal team leader at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “It’s always exciting to welcome a newborn and Alina is proving to be a fantastic mother and is very attentive towards her vocal baby.

“We will be keeping an eye on the pair as they get to know one another. Mum is protective and will be keeping it close to her. “

Keepers do not yet know whether the new lemur is a boy or girl and it could be six months before they discover its gender.

Alina has already had two offspring - a daughter Antoka and son Maso - who are still in the family group.

Lake Alaotran gentle lemurs have a dark grey, dense, woolly coat with a chestnut muzzle and short ears. Their hands, feet and tail are used for grasping and balancing, which allows them to walk along the reed stalks in their lakeside habitat. They are Critically Endangered in their native Madagascar because their habitat has been destroyed by people.

Their numbers are also threatened by hunters who catch them for food and to keep as pets.

Marshlands around Lake Alaotra, where they are found, have been burnt so people can catch fish and provide areas to graze cattle.

When fully grown, male Lake Alaotran gentle lemurs weigh just 1.2kg, females weigh slightly more at 1.3kg and they usually stand between 30 and 40cm tall. They are graminivores, meaning they feed on a variety of marsh vegetation such as reed and grasses. However, papyrus leaves make up the majority of their diet.

In the wild, these lemurs are found around the largest lake in Madagascar, Lake Alaotra.

They are the only primate to have adapted to living in reed and papyrus beds.

Bristol Zoological Society is involved in helping to build a new field station in Madagascar that will help to save lemurs.

The Ankarafa field station in the north-western Sahamalaza-Iles Radama National Park will provide a research base for conservationists and scientists who are working to help lemurs of which more than 90 per cent are threatened with extinction.

A £111,000 appeal has been set up to raise money to build the field station. People can make donations at here > 

Our lemur walk-through enclosure is sponsored by Redmaids' High School.

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