Ring tailed lemurs
The Zoo has 5 ring tailed
lemurs, 1 male and 4 females, they came as a group from
the UK in 2005. They are aged between 8 to 10 years old
and form part of the Regional studbook. A request has
been placed for an additional male.
Ring Tailed lemurs are
extremely territorial, when territory and other disputes
take place it is usually the females that win. The males
often show their dominance by having ‘stink fights’
after rubbing their tales on their strong smelling wrist
gland they wave their tales to others.
Ring tailed lemurs are
considered Vulnerable according to the IUCN red list
this means they face a high risk of extinction in the
medium term. They are also protected against
international trade under the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
Lemurs have many similarities and share the same
threats. Lemurs are endemic to Madagascar and inhabit
mainly primary and secondary forests. Due to logging,
hunting and slash and burn agriculture, where forests
are cut and burnt down to make way for agriculture,
their habitat is fast diminishing. Lemurs are also sold
in the illegal pet trade. However they do not make very
good pets, they are known to be very aggressive and as
they get older are known to attack their owners.
Conservation efforts have been
placed to increase the population of these animals.
There are protected areas in Madagascar, some lemurs are
protected against international trade under the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(CITES) and many captive breeding programmes are used
for certain species of lemurs such as the black and
white ruffed lemurs.
Zoos also play a major role in
the conservation of species. The captive breeding
programs, in Zoos have been very successfully and in
certain instances animals have been placed back into the
wild. Part of ensuring captive breeding is successful;
most Zoo’s share a stud book. A studbook is a list of
all the animals in Zoos worldwide. Each Zoo can make a
request through the studbook to get another animal on
loan from another Zoo. Example: The Johannesburg Zoo
have 2 male black and white ruffed lemurs, in order to
successfully breed this species, we require an unrelated
female, a request is placed via the stud books and they
attempt to find an unrelated female for the male.
Although the process seems easy enough, there are many
challenges: finding a suitable animal to breed and the
transit cost are high.