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Johannesburg Zoo


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.

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