After a three-decade ring-tailed lemur drought, three babies were born in three days at The Cincinnati Zoo. Five-year-old Izze gave birth to a single pup on July 28, then 3-year-old Willow had twins just a few days later.
Both first-time moms arrived at the zoo last year as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan. They joined the zoo's male lemur, Ivan, at Lemur Lookout, where patient visitors might be able to spot the babies.
“I was excited to hear about the newborn ring-tailed lemur,” said Bob Lessnau, director of the zoo's animal collections, in a press release. “The stability of ring-tailed lemur populations in zoos is crucial as wild populations endure dire straits. Like most prosimians in Madagascar, ring-tailed lemurs are threatened by habitat destruction and the bush-meat trade.”
According to the WWF, of the 50 species of lemurs, 10 are critically endangered, seven are endangered and 19 are classified as vulnerable. Once classified as near threatened, the ring-tailed lemur was named endangered in 2014 and its numbers are declining. Their geographic range is the dry forests and bush of southern and southwestern Madagascar, but they're now found primarily only in protected areas.
“Through collaborative science-based breeding programs and sound husbandry, North American zoos are collectively preserving the species while raising awareness about urgent conservation needs,” said Ron Evans, the zoo's curator of primates. "The SSP and Cincinnati’s primate team work hard to protect Izze, Willow, Ivan, the three little flagbearers and lemurs around the world."
Watch the new moms with their babies: