Small Mammal House keepers at the Smithsonian's National Zoo are celebrating the birth of three critically endangered red-ruffed lemurs born April 5 to 6-year-old mother Molly. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan recommended that Molly breed with the Zoo's 7-year-old red-ruffed lemur brothers, Coronado and Cortez.
Animal care staff check the nest every day and have observed Molly nursing and carrying the babies, which appear to be healthy and strong. Zoo veterinarians will perform a complete physical exam on the lemurs and determine their sexes in the next few weeks. Keepers covered a portion of the enclosure glass with corrugated plastic to help the babies acclimate to their environment. Visitors can view all three adult red-ruffed lemurs and the babies in the Small Mammal House's mixed-species exhibit.
Red-ruffed lemur females usually give birth to three young, although they can have up to six young in one litter. Unlike most primates who carry their offspring with them, red-ruffed lemurs typically leave their young in nests while they search for food. Native to the northeastern deciduous forests of Madagascar, red-ruffed lemurs are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to deforestation, hunting and trapping for the pet trade.
Photo 1 Credit: Ashley West, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Photo 2 Credit: Rachel Rufino, Smithsonian's National Zoo