Potter Park Zoo’s ring-tailed lemurs gave birth to a healthy baby Monday, June 20, 2022. This was the first birth for this species at the zoo since July 4, 1988. The zoo’s animal care team reports the baby is actively nursing from mom and observing the environment more each day.
Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur Catta) are found only on the island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa. Each ring-tailed lemur has exactly 13 alternating black and white bands on its tail. Infants will initially cling to their mother’s bellies, but after a few weeks they can be seen riding jockey style on their mothers’ backs. Infants will begin sampling solid food after a week and will become increasingly independent after a month. They return to mom to nurse or sleep until they are weaned at five or six months of age. All adult females in the troop will participate in raising the offspring.
Potter Park Zoo was recommended to breed the pair of lemurs by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which works to ensure healthy and genetically diverse zoo populations.
Ring-tailed lemurs have most recently been assessed as endangered on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2018. In the wild, ring-tailed lemurs are threatened largely because the sparse, dry forests they love are quickly vanishing. For the Potter Park Zoo team, each ring-tailed lemur birth is a small victory in the species’ fight for survival and provides a unique opportunity to educate and connect the public with this rare and fascinating species.
Guests can pay the lemur family a visit in the Feline and Primate House and follow the zoo’s social media pages for more updates.